Senior Care Manager Builds New Home With Habitat
"I'm so anxious; I can't wait to become a homeowner," says Keisha Threadgill, who will soon own a home built by Habitat for Humanity of Moore County.
Habitat is now building in northern Moore County in the Carthage area, which will eventually have 20 Habitat homes.
"One is already built and occupied," she says. "Some will be on Madison Road, and some on Needmore Road. Mine will be on Needmore. It'll be finished by June."
Threadgill is a care manager at Moore County's Department of Aging.
"The lot has been cleared. I get excited every time I see the Habitat truck there."
When Threadgill learned that Habitat would be building in the Carthage area, she sent in her application in July 2006 and learned a few months later that she had been accepted.
"I have thought about Habitat for years, and I am so ready to get out of where I live," she says.
Although not complicated, the Habitat application process has been carefully developed to qualify homeowners.
"I thought my chances were pretty good," she says. "I've had a stable job for more than 10 years. My work history is good."
Services for Seniors
Threadgill has worked for the Department of Aging since 1997.
"I started as a new home aide," she says, "and then was promoted to lead aide, where I assisted nurses and provided personal care."
Then she worked as the administrative secretary until last fall when she was promoted to care manager.
"I now oversee nutrition and transportation programs for adults 60 years and older," she says.
The nutrition program provides meals to homebound clients who can't attend the sites where meals are served. About 100 seniors receive meals in their homes from the county's Department of Aging, she says.
In addition, other seniors who aren't homebound receive meals at several sites, which serve meals five days a week, located throughout Moore County.
The transportation services that Threadgill manages are quite varied.
"We provide transportation for medical appointments in and out of the county," she says.
For example, seniors are taken to doctors at Duke and UNC hospitals as well as to medical appointments in Fayetteville. The demand for transportation is very high.
"We have a waiting list for these services," she says.
'Sweat Equity' Begins
Threadgill's application began with an initial assessment.
"They did a home visit and conducted an interview," she says.
Next came an orientation at the site where the home would be built, and the initial requirement to put in "sweat equity," a Habitat term that refers to the hours of direct labor that homeowners invest into building their Habitat house and the houses of others. Each adult in a family acquiring a house invests 300 hours of sweat equity; each child 16 and above contributes 60 hours.
"They want to see if you're really willing to work," she says.
When a community comes together, sweat equity can really grow. Last year more than 5,000 hours of sweat equity were performed in Moore County as 16 families became new homeowners.
Her first hours of sweat equity were spent not on her home but on a Habitat house being built in Robbins on Green Street.
"The experience was tough," Threadgill says about the house she helped build. "It was still in the framing stage.
"I cut 2 x 4s for the doorway with a handsaw," she says. "That was work. The AmeriCorps volunteers were very helpful to make sure that I did the work correctly and safely."
Threadgill says she's learned a lot working with Tom Compa, Habitat's construction manager.
"He is awesome," she says.
She recently attended the dedication ceremonies of three Habitat homes in Robbins now occupied by their new owners.
"I worked on all three houses," she says with pride.
What tasks did she do?
"A little bit of everything -- painting, hammering and nailing, landscaping, putting up siding," she says.
She also helped prepare the houses for insulation.
"I'm not a 'heights' person," she says, "but I had to get on a ladder."
Threadgill estimates that she is about half completed with the requirements of sweat equity. Some requirements for hours have been contributed for her by participants in programs at the Senior Enrichment Center where her office with the Department of Aging is located on U.S. 15-501.
Other volunteers, active in the county's RSVP [Retired and Senior Volunteer Program], see Threadgill occasionally at the Senior Enrichment Center when recognition events are held there.
"They have their appreciation breakfast here," she says, "and it takes the whole staff to put it on because more than 200 attend."
Her co-workers at the Department of Aging are also excited and have been willing to help.
"They are also putting in volunteer hours," she says.
Once Threadgill was approved and started putting in her hours, she also began attending the homeowner classes that Habitat conducts for its new owners.
"We attend 12 different classes," she says, "and I've almost completed them. We have learned about home safety, such as proper locks on doors, and home maintenance. The house will be my responsibility, and the class covers everything from simple tasks like changing furnace filters to complicated jobs.
There are also classes on how to manage money.
As Threadgill has been attending classes, she's also been making the initial decisions typical of a new home.
"I've already picked out the major colors, such as siding, tile, carpet and countertops," she says.
The house will be close to where Threadgill's grandmother and mother live -- on the same road.
"I'll be within walking distance," she says, and "I will be with four generations," which include her two daughters, Shaniquewa, 14, and Tiasia, 8. "They are so excited about the new house."
20th Year of Service
Habitat for Humanity of Moore County is celebrating its 20th year of serving families in the Sandhills in 2008.
To celebrate the 144 homes built and commitment of the community to build more homes, the county affiliate will be hosting a weeklong series of events May 5-10. They include tours of Habitat homes, the Habitat Moore Store, and the local office as well as volunteer appreciation events.
The series peaks on Saturday, May 10, with the annual celebration gala that is held each spring. To attend, call the Moore County Habitat office at 295-1934 for details. Seating at the event is limited.
The funds raised by the gala will help Habitat build new homes in the county and serve other families like Threadgill's.
"I am honored to partner with Habitat," she says. "I like to look back to see where I have come from. It certainly has been a blessing. I have a feeling that there are many more to come."
Ray Linville is an associate professor of English and humanities at Sandhills Community College.
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