Habitat builds for people in Westminster, even in the drizzle

Jon Kelvey
Contact ReporterCarroll County Times

It was a cloudy and at times drizzly morning Saturday, but that was no big hurdle for the volunteer laborers working on the Habitat for Humanity of Carroll County build on the unit block of South Court Street in Westminster.

Thanks to moving faster than scheduled in renovating the property, the crew was inside, painting.

“We’re here on what I believe is either our seventh or eighth workday and we’ve made so much progress, it’s hard to even recognize the place from when we started,” said Habitat for Humanity Construction Manager Scott Swartz. “All the painting will be completed after today. Next week we will be doing some yard work. Cabinets will be coming soon, flooring.”

Swartz and volunteers have been working every weekend since Aug. 4, when they first started demolition work on the Court Street home, part of a duplex that needed a little “tender love and care,” as Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Bryan Lyburn puts it.

Habitat provides lower-income people an opportunity at home ownership by finding such properties that need a little work and then making them available to the new owner with a zero percent interest mortgage. It’s not given away, Lyburn notes, as the owner must make the monthly mortgage payments and put in some sweat equity during the renovation.

That’s been no problem for Natasha Elizabeth, the soon-to-be homeowner, who has been working alongside Habitat volunteers each weekend.

“I am so excited about the progress and everyone who is helping, it’s just amazing. I want to thank everyone,” she said. “We’re getting done so much earlier every day because of all the volunteers coming. So many people that want to help; it’s so touching.”

One of those volunteers was Jake Sturgill, of Westminster, who was enjoying his chance to paint the trim in the home Saturday.

“I don’t work with my hands that often so it’s been interesting and great to learn and work,” he said. “I got introduced to this great program through Bryan Lyburn. I met him through a program called Leadership Carroll run through the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce and I just really think it’s important to be involved in the community and give back and help those in need.”

The work of Elizabeth and volunteers like Sturgill has now pushed up the expected construction schedule, as the nonprofit had expected to present Elizabeth, and her 6-year-old son Gordon Braxton, with the home sometime in early November.

“We’re hoping to have her in here by the 19th of October. That pushes it up three weeks earlier than before,” Swartz said. “That’s where we are now and we just hope to keep making good progress.”

Not that Habitat for Humanity will be gone from the neighborhood at that point.

“A little bit of a tease: I think we’re getting the place next door,” Swartz said, referring to the other half of the duplex, which is currently unoccupied. “We’re excited about that and will be working on that in the future.”

jon.kelvey@carrollcountytimes.com

410-857-3317

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