The Habitat Home dedication on October 26 concluded my third year working as a part of Mt. Bethel’s Habitat for Humanity Ministry. This year was so special and different from the rest. First, the Faithmates Sunday School Class has found a rhythm when it comes to planning the Road Race. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it was easy, but the event went off without a hitch, and we had a spectacular turnout of over 650 runners, walkers, and phantom runners. All in all, we raised $80,000!
Second, this year’s home was built for a US Army Veteran as part of the Homes for Heroes Program. Every year, the home build goes on at the peak of race prep time, during the months of September and October. So while we’re all working hard to raise money, get race registrations, and order t-shirts, our Habitat homeowner is swinging a hammer, installing itchy insulation, laying sod, and pouring sweat into their new home. Shameka, the new homeowner, is currently enrolled in college and working full time, and she still worked overtime with the Mt. Bethel crew! Her motivation was inspiring. During her “thank you’s” to everyone who helped make her dream a reality, she explained that she can’t wait to live in a house that no one has ever lived in before. Thanks to the Habitat Ministry, Shameka was given a hand-up and the opportunity to own a home and start her family (she is engaged and planning a wedding, too!)
The last thing that made this year so different and special was the home’s dedication to the memory of Jim Sutton, a cherished church member and selfless volunteer. Mr. Sutton’s family came to the dedication and accepted a plaque in his honor. No one can say it as well as Harold Ball did, so I quote his words, “Jim was always eager to share the love of Christ with homeowners and fellow volunteers at Habitat and Handy Helper worksites. His willingness to share his many construction skills was invaluable to the success of these ministries. Jim served his country faithfully for 29 years. He retired at rank of Colonel and was a highly decorated member of the US Army 82nd Airborne Division. It’s only fitting that this Habitat home was built for Shameka Howell a fellow US Army Airborne veteran.”
Needless to say, I can’t wait to see what God has in store for next year’s Habitat project. It will be tough to top this one!
Ashley O’Neil, Mt. Bethel’s Habitat Ministry Chairperson