It’s not a proper Habitat for Humanity of Hall County dedication if no one is there to witness it.
But that wasn’t a problem Thursday afternoon when dozens upon dozens of individuals — volunteers, donors, faith leaders, government officials and business owners — showed up for a ceremony honoring the Copper Glen subdivision’s first homeowners.
Courtney Young and Jujuan Johnson received keys to their new homes, and after a few prayers and song, each mother’s two children went to explore their new bedrooms.
“Getting picked is so special,” Young said.
Johnson said she was left speechless by the hard work and support of the community.
“I don’t have words,” she added, before admitting that she’s ready for any challenge homeownership might bring. “I have learned so much.”
Copper Glen came into the hands of Habitat as a land donation. The 42 acres will support 21 homes off Baker Road near Ga. 60/Candler Road, plus a walking trail and community garden.
Tim Williams, Habitat building director, said he expects to finish construction on four more homes by the end of the year.
Johnson’s daughters, Ayanna and Cori, who attend Gainesville High, said they felt excited and blessed to earn their new home.
While their mother put in hundreds of hours of “sweat equity,” the young women kept up their grades in school, as well as commitments to their sports teams.
“Let’s not stop,” Johnson said.
There are certainly no signs of stopping.
Habitat dedicated its 50th home in Hall County last April.
And Tim Williams, Habitat building director, said he expects to finish construction on four more homes in Copper Glen by the end of the year.
The demand exists for more.
A lack of affordable, quality housing in Gainesville and Hall County and its effects on the area economy and residents’ quality of life are have consequences that need addressing, according to local business, government and nonprofit leaders.
Ann Nixon, Habitat executive director, said it takes the entire community to get the job done.
And it takes partnerships with families, government, nonprofits, churches and businesses to sustain.
For example, the Gainesville-Hall County Junior League presenting Habitat with a check for nearly $9,800 on Thursday following a recent successful fundraising initiative.
“You build the homes,” Nixon told those in attendance.
The new homeowners now have an opportunity to reap the benefits of an asset that promotes achievement.
Applicants must meet income guidelines, but they also must show they can make mortgage payments. Financial education assistance and a down payment are required.
Of course, it first begins with pitching in on the construction of other Habitat homes.
“They’re paying it forward,” Nixon said.
But when dreams turn into reality, Nixon said, the results are clear.
For the community, it includes fewer food subsidies, decreased health care expenses, increased community intellectual capital and increased workplace production, according to Nixon.
She said Habitat homeowners show improvement in financial security, and the stability of a home can have a major impact on how well children perform in school.
“All of these benefits come from a hammer and a nail,” Nixon said.
The Rev. Stuart Higginbotham, rector of Grace Episcopal Church in Gainesville, sermonized before leading a prayer at the dedication.
“This neighborhood is a reminder of what’s possible for all of us,” he said.