Habitat of Moore: Dreams to Reality
I stood in the back to watch and listen as the 135th home built by Habitat For Humanity of Moore County was dedicated and blessed.
I work with one of the new homeowners, a single parent, who would try to express the joy she felt for her and the small son she held in her arms.
People were introduced, volunteers who worked on this home and the new one right next door, members of the Habitat board, selection committee, college students from Boston College spending their spring break working in our community.
Symbols of the event would be living reminders of this day for years to come -- a painting presented by the Artists League, a quilt from the Sandhills Quilting Guild, a Bible with inscription and prayer, a birdhouse made by a local church youth group. Prayers were offered, laughter and applause, smiles and good wishes all around. And I thought, how wonderful, how full of wonder!
As I walked to the car, I was taken back almost 20 years. You see, Habitat For Humanity has not always been here. It grew out of the same cast of caring characters who formed the Sandhills Coalition in the mid-1980s. There were no office, no budget, no store, no benefit, no committees or volunteers -- only a dream.
In fact, it happened something like this.
At a Coalition board meeting, Stan Duarte and his wife said they wanted to go visit Americus, Ga., to learn more about this program started there to build homes for and with lower-income families. It was called Habitat for Humanity. Hal Hyde and I, among others, urged them to go and come back to tell us about it.
They certainly did. We invited them to speak at a Sunday forum at Emmanuel Church, and their message caught the imagination of the people.
"We should do this here," was the chorus of enthusiasm. And so, a small group would meet in the church library to design a plan, and pray. Before long we had an outline of organization, a structure, volunteer committees and a small office space in that little green house next to Emmanuel's offices -- second floor this time.
I remember the sheer joy and wonder when Don Hill reported that he had acquired our first building lot at auction on the steps of the courthouse in Carthage. It was off Roseland Road in Aberdeen.
With the Selection committee at work, word spread through the churches, and a construction crew emerged to work with the chosen family. It seemed as if the whole community was involved, and proud of it.
The dream became a reality, not just for the first homeowner but for all of us. And so it began.
Long before there were the store, offices, and staff, there were the likes of Jean Cathcart in the office, Libby Evans on the first selection team, and Warren Walk, whose dedication would manage and guide the operations for many years.
Long before there was a gala at the Carolina Hotel or Country Club of North Carolina, there was a winter's night when Walker Morris let WIOZ broadcast a live version of Dickens' Christmas Carol from the stage of the old (pre-Sunrise) theater with local actors and sound effects to raise funds from listeners and those of us in the small audience who were fascinated to watch the story come alive.
Later that winter, I would sit in the kitchen of the Bonsal home and ask Patsy if she would join the board and help us raise consciousness as well as money for the work of Habitat to continue here -- and she said "yes"!
The rest is not history, it's a living legacy to those mentioned here and hundreds more who continue to make the dream a reality. And this community, like every other where Habitat lives, is better for it. It helps make us good.
If you couldn't buy a raffle ticket or go the gala, just remember where all this wonderful work came from and help it continue at 2266 N.C. 5 in Aberdeen, or call 295-1934.
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