Sherricka Smith became a homeowner Monday as she received the keys to her Habitat for Humanity of Hall County home.
Habitat High students and volunteers worked on the house, even though progress slowed when the unfinished house was broken into around the holidays and the wiring was stolen. It’s the first Habitat home in 2013.
“It’s kind of overwhelming,” Smith said “It’s an end, but it’s a new beginning.”
Habitat High is a program that gives those who have excelled in construction class the opportunity to work on-site building a house during the school year.
Flowery Branch High School student Nick Addison worked on Smith’s house. The 18-year-old broke up concrete and helped build the walls. The senior was also in the program last year.
“The thought of giving somebody a home that didn’t have one before is just a good feeling,” he said.
Smith received a large purple plastic key during the ceremony Monday morning, when she was surrounded by the students, Habitat volunteers and staff and Smith’s family and friends.
Smith’s two daughters, Zaria, 7, and Zion, 5, ran around their house in excitement. The family was living in an apartment before and the kids were excited to have their own rooms. Zion tried to fit the oversized key into the lock of the front door.
“When they told me they found a lot (of land), I was ecstatic,” Smith said. “The waiting was almost over.”
The building process took a little longer than normal because of several factors, including the theft of copper wiring around Christmas. The volunteers had to redo work, and it was a hit for morale, but only temporarily, said Ann Nixon, executive director of the Hall County agency.
The process for Smith took three years. Habitat for Humanity builds homes for low-income residents who meet certain income and sweat equity requirements.
“The homeowner earns every bit of it,” Nixon said. “This is not a handout; it’s a hand up.”
Nixon said normally the nonprofit will build about two houses, but because it has partnered with the county’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program, it will help six families this year.
“We’re starting on another project tomorrow on Black Drive, which is an NSP project,” Nixon said. “After that we’ll be starting another renovation a little farther out on Harmony Church Road. So, we’re underway with NSP.
The county program buys foreclosed homes, rehabs them and sells them to new owners through a federal grant.