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Three Harford families get new homes for the holidays

The Aegis

Habitat for Humanity Susquehanna marked a very special accomplishment this year.

Thanks to its programs, three families were welcomed home for the holidays – two through the Homeownership Program, and one through the Repair Program.

All three homes came about in very different – and unique – ways.

The Barrett Family

In July, Habitat Susquehanna joined forces with a group called the Habitat Road Trip Crazies with the goal of building as much of one home as possible in one weekend with 100 volunteers. In reality, approximately 250 volunteers showed up to build the Barrett family’s Havre de Grace home. Several businesses, churches and area residents participated as well, providing food and drinks to the volunteers, and donating building materials.

After the two-day build, however, Habitat Susquehanna slowed down construction to raise the remaining funds for the house. In the case of the Barrett home, the opportunity to partner with the “Crazies” group meant that only 10 percent of the funds had been raised before construction began; the remaining 90 percent was raised before construction continued. Fortunately, many businesses sponsored the home build and it was completed in time for the Dec. 22 dedication ceremony.

“We were blessed with a lot of sponsorships to make this a successful build,” Karen Blandford, executive director of Habitat Susquehanna, said.

The sponsors included Harford County Government; Bank of America; Rosedale Federal Savings and Loan Association; Aon Hewitt; Gutter Guys; St. Margaret’s Church; and Teledyne.

“Thanks to Habitat for Humanity Susquehanna we are again able to celebrate another home built for Harford County families in need,” Len Parrish, Harford County Director of Housing & Community Development, said. “My wife and I very much enjoyed being involved in the construction of this house during the Crazy Build weekend in July and it is wonderful to see the house finished and the keys being turned over to the Barrett family. Harford County Government is proud to be a continued partner through grant funding provided by the HOME Investments Partnership Program, and county employees have also joined the effort as volunteer builders under County Executive Barry Glassman’s Day of Service program.”

“Bank of America is a global company with a local focus, and our many teammates who volunteered on this project thoroughly enjoyed our continued partnership with Habitat Susquehanna,” Sabina Kelly, Greater Maryland Market President for Bank of America, said. “We are proud to support Habitat’s mission to provide affordable housing for local families, which is a critical step toward financial stability and success.”

“All of us at Rosedale Federal Savings & Loan Association are thrilled to congratulate Liz Barrett and her daughter on their beautiful home,” Kevin Benson, President and CEO of Rosedale Federal Savings and Loan Association, said. “We also celebrate Habitat for Humanity Susquehanna on completing this important undertaking. Partnering with Habitat Susquehanna on this project advances our shared commitment to provide affordable home ownership that changes lives, empowers families and strengthens communities.”

The Hines Family

During the August ground-breaking ceremony for the Hines family’s Elkton home, Blandford made a special announcement to the gathered crowd. For the first time, a mortgage would be held not by Habitat Susquehanna, as was the usual case, but by the USDA (through a low-interest mortgage loan). This was an important point because it meant that Habitat Susquehanna wouldn’t have to do as much fundraising to build the house.

From that moment on, volunteers were scheduled regularly to work from Wednesdays to Saturdays building the house. Among those working to build the home was a highly skilled crew from Old Dominion Electric Cooperative (ODEC) Wildcat Generation Facility, also a financial sponsor.

Another feature of the build was the donation of the land by Cecil County’s Meeting Ground Inc. from a donation originally made to Meeting Ground by Wells Fargo.

“Wells Fargo’s commitment to our communities is a critical part of our business strategy, and by working with organizations like Habitat, we are helping make homeownership a reality for many in our community,” Monica Mitchell, Wells Fargo vice president, community relations and corporate responsibility, said. “Habitat does such important work, and Wells Fargo is proud to support them in their efforts.”

Representatives from ODEC, Meeting Ground, Wells Fargo and the USDA were invited to the Dec. 21 dedication ceremony. Additional invited sponsors included the Elkton Moose Lodge 851 and St. Margaret’s Church.

“This is a wonderful investment in Cecil County,” Blandford said. “We’re so excited for the Hines family, and we look forward to more of these opportunities for other families in the future.”

‘Jane Doe’

In September, Habitat Susquehanna’s Repair Program was working on the dilemma of how to help a woman, identified only as “Jane Doe,” who was living in a doublewide mobile home in Harford County that was literally collapsing around her.

Over the years, the blocks that had been holding up her home were sinking and tipping in the ground so that the home was folding into itself. The only room that was habitable was her bedroom, and the woman would wear several coats indoors because the heat wasn’t working.

Because she had no real income to fix anything so extreme (she was collecting unemployment at the time), the woman contacted the Repair Program asking for a new roof, ceiling and floors. After a house visit, it was obvious that the Repair Program had to deem the home unrepairable; it was too cost-prohibitive for grant money to be used toward the amount of extensive repairs required.

A solution came in an unexpected way – a Jarrettsville homeowner contacted the Repair Program with a doublewide trailer that she wanted to donate to Habitat Susquehanna.

“I lived and raised my four kids for 16 years in this doublewide Fleetwood mobile home. We had outgrown it, and it had always been my dream to build a house on my grandmother’s land,” Cheryl Knopp, sitting in the family room of her new home that was built this year, said. “The mobile home was in great condition - we had maintained it and put in new windows, doors, roofing and siding.”

The demolition/removal of the woman’s deteriorated mobile home, the installation of new concrete footers and the disassembling/moving of the donated home was a quick process. Once the home was put on her property, much-needed appliances like a refrigerator and dishwasher were purchased using grant money such as the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). The woman also received a new heat pump, washer/dryer and electric range.

“This is a perfect example of the strong partnership we have with the Harford County Housing & Community Development,” Terry Hottle, Home Rehabilitation Supervisor for Habitat Susquehanna’s Repair Program, said. “There were so many things we had to put in place to give this homeowner the help that she needed. Len Parrish, Chris Behles and the entire staff were invaluable to making this all possible. What a great Christmas present!”

“I really wanted to bless someone else,” Knopp said, reflecting on the timeliness of her donation.

“I’m so happy about it,” Doe said. “Tell Cheryl Knopp that God will bless her in a special way, and thank you!”

“It’s nice to think that we’re going to be having our first Christmas in our new house, and she’ll be having her first Christmas in hers,” Knopp said.

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