A home of their own

Published 2:42 am Saturday, November 7, 2009

Bessie Marshall and her daughter Terri Townsend used to play a game while traveling down Andalusia’s streets — “claiming a house,” they called it.

Sometimes, the “for sale” signs would be in front of a small brick house with a tire swing in the front yard; other times, in front of a large monstrosity with flowers galore.

“We’d come back around and see someone had moved in the house, and I’d say, ‘I guess that house isn’t in store for us,’” Marshall said.

But this year, Marshall and her family have finally won that game. Earlier this year, they were notified they were chosen as the second Covington County Habitat for Humanity family, and the first in Andalusia.

Habitat for Humanity is a non-profit charitable organization that constructs houses for needy “partner families.” The houses are built from volunteer labor and the families own the house and pay a small mortgage fee, as well as help out with construction.

Marshall, her daughter Terri, and Marshall’s grandchildren, Jacard Townsend, an Andalusia High School sophomore, and 9-year-old twins, Iana and Ian Smith, will soon call Bagley Street and their new Habitat house home.

Construction on the four-bedroom, two-bath house is slated for the next two weekends — Nov. 14 and 15 and Nov. 21 and 22.

Family support committee chair Denise Brooks said “the build” was originally scheduled for this weekend, but was pushed back because of rain.

“The first site we chose, which was farther down the street, was covered in water,” she said. “(Northside Baptist Church) owned some lots right across from them and they were kind enough to sell those to us, and that took some time to close on. Now, we’re ready to build.”

And so are Bessie Marshall and her family. They began their Habitat journey right alongside the Opp’s Hanlin family, the county’s first Habitat family, lending a hand wherever needed.

“I can’t use the words to let people know how excited we are to be getting our own, our very own, house,” Marshall said. “I always thought that having a house wasn’t for me, but when I saw that article in the paper, I knew I had to try.”

About two weeks after submitting her paperwork, she and her family got the news — they had been chosen.

Since then the entire family has been busy completing the national Habitat requirement of performing 100 hours of “sweat equity,” by learning techniques for managing a household.

And now the time has come for Habitat volunteers to make the family’s dream of home ownership come true.

“It’s really real. It’s really real that we’re going to have a house,” Marshall said. “I’ve got butterflies all the way down, I’m so excited.”

HFHCC is a 501(c)(3) organization, making donations tax-deductible. Donation checks should be made out to “Habitat for Humanity of Covington County” and sent to Habitat for Humanity of Covington County, P.O. Box 1034, Andalusia, AL 36420. In addition, HFHCC is now putting out a newsletter; to join the mailing list, write to the group’s address.

Those who wish to volunteer during Habitat’s upcoming building should contact the HFHCC office at 222-0827, or e-mail Katie King at kingkatief@gmail.com.