Lisa Pollard remembers the moment she got the call from her daughter, single mom Tiffany Carnegie, letting her know that Habitat for Humanity of Carroll County had chosen her to become a homeowner.
“When Tiffany called to say she had won, I was driving. All I could hear was her crying, and then she said, ‘Pick me!’ I said, ‘What is wrong? Where are you? Are you okay? Do you need to be picked up?’ That’s when she said, ‘No, I’m fine. They picked me!’ I almost had to pull over.”
Pollard said this home will make a huge difference in the lives of her daughter and her grandchildren.
“This means my grandchildren will have a secure, safe and more spacious place to live,” she said. “And it is going to be hers. It is the opportunity of a lifetime.”
On Saturday, Tiffany and her family joined at least a dozen volunteers to work on the Westminster house. She’s spent every Saturday since April 13 working on the home, earning sweat equity hours and completing home ownership classes. When the home is finished, Tiffany and her children — Amaya Hill, 2, Xavier Hill, 3, and Lanaeya Hill, 6 — will own their own home.
“I have absolutely loved working on my house each week,” Tiffany said. “Nothing feels better than to be able to help with the transformation. I feel empowered and have this undeniable sense of ownership. It feels amazing. Now, I can finally get on my feet. I want to go back to school and get my master’s. I already have a bachelor’s in social work.”
Tiffany, a service coordinator with Human Services Programs of Carroll County, said working on the home has been a lesson in home ownership.
“We did yardwork outside, and I got to hang the shutters,” she said. I helped with all the painting and helped cut the baseboards and put them in. Volunteers have hung shelves in the bathroom and the bedroom closets. The Career and Tech Center built an outdoor shed and Taneytown Towing delivered it.”
According to Habitat’s director of development, Stephanie Averett, this is the eighth opportunity for homeownership the Carroll County office has given in the past five years.
Construction manager Scott Swartz projects the work will be completed by the end of June with the keys handed over to Tiffany on Thursday, July 11, at the Westminster American Legion Post 31.
“[This] is not a handout,” Swartz said. “It is a hand up. Eligible families are offered an interest-free home loan that makes them a part of building a better community while [we are] helping to assist a family who wants to make a difference in their community and to be a full-fledged homeowner.”
Mark Tyrrell brought employees from his company, Right Resources, to volunteer.
“We try to volunteer somewhere about once a quarter,” he said.
Employee Scott Link was all in.
“I enjoy giving back to the community and helping others in need,” he said. “And we’re bonding with fellow workers.”
Co-worker Kate Dear rolled glue for new flooring to go down.
“It’s so good to see it all come together,” she said.
Co-worker Chelsea Weinstein nodded.
“I am learning so much here,” she said. “Once I get a house, I will know how to put down flooring!”
Dave Rampolla was busy supervising the work, but he stopped to speak about the condition of the home before Habitat stepped in.
“It was just awful,” he said. “We knew it was bad when we were doing the house next door. The smell coming from this house was horrible. We had to fully gut it. We tore the walls out, everything, right down to the studs. It was not habitable.”
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What started out as a nightmare, he said, has come together nicely.
“It is particularly special because it is Tiffany's and her three little ones,” he said. “She smiles every weekend.”
Tiffany said she left her husband of eight years when she was pregnant with her third child.
“It was a very unhealthy environment for my children,” she said. “This home means everything to me. I have been struggling to afford the two-bedroom home I’m renting now. This will be a much lower payment, and we will have three bedrooms. It means a new beginning, a stable foundation for my children to grow from, and a place for us to be safe and happy for many years to come. This is the ultimate blessing for my family. I can't thank Habitat for Humanity enough for doing what they do for people like me in our community.”
Bryan Lyburn, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Carroll County, spoke of the mission.
“I am so grateful to work alongside a passionate, loving, caring, and fun group of staff, volunteers, sponsors, and partners who commit so much to helping others,” he said.
Applications for the next project, a Taneytown home, will be released this fall with details on the website at https://cchabitat.org and on their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/HabitatForHumanityOfCarrollCounty/. For more information, contact the office at 410-751-7722.