LANSING | A celebration was held at the Patti Leach Youth Center on Saturday to mark the completion of the most recent rehabilitation project of Habitat for Humanity Chicago South Suburbs. That project will enable Javaze Hart and her two children to soon move into their new home at 17319 Burnham Ave.
David Tracy, executive director for Habitat for Humanity Chicago South Suburbs, said that while this marks the eleventh rehabbed home the organization has completed in Lansing since 2011, this one was unique for more than one reason.
This was the Habitat chapter's first Lowe's Women Build Project.
"We had about 120 women that signed up in various groups and they did most of the work," Tracy said.
The women came largely from churches, organizations and sororities in Illinois.
Jodi Kikkert, of New Lenox, carried bricks and learned how to install drywall as part of her volunteer efforts with a group composed mostly of women associated with BMO Harris Bank.
"We do mortgages all day long, so this was kind of neat to see something on the other end of housing," Kikkert said.
Tracy said this also marked the chapter's first dedication of a home in which a member of the new family has special needs, as Hart's young son uses a wheelchair.
"We took out carpet and put in laminate flooring and so forth, so it would be easier for him to get around," Tracy said.
Other work done to the three-bedroom, one-bath home since work started in March included upgrading the electrical and plumbing systems and installing a new laundry space, water heater, furnace and additional insulation.
Funding for the new home was provided by not only Lowe's Home Improvement, but also by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.
Hart fought back tears as she addressed Village President Norm Abbott and the crowd of family, friends and volunteers who attended the ceremony, which was followed by an open house at her new home.
She thanked God and wished that her mother, who died in March, could have been at the ceremony in person to see her daughter start her new beginning.
"This has been a journey, but this journey has been such a blessing to have this opportunity to purchase my home through Habitat," Hart said.
Melonie Dulaney, chairperson of Habitat's Family Development Committee, explained how the organization helps families that wouldn't normally qualify for a home loan.
"We help them to attain the American dream of becoming a homeowner by providing simple, decent and affordable housing," she said.
Dulaney explained how member families pay a mortgage upon taking occupancy and how they must first undergo a selection process and do many hours of "sweat equity," which may include working on their home as well as other affiliate homes, or working in the Habitat ReStore in Chicago Heights.