At Eighteen21 we’re able to experience, and report on, so many of our non-profits and what achieve here in Springfield. Most recently, Ericka attended the dedication of the latest Habitat for Humanity home, at 1333 East Morton Avenue, for mother and daughters Shawna Meredith, Eliana, and Elisia. In her own words, Ericka describes the occasion … make sure you have your Kleenex ready!
With a ring of the bell, the doors opened to a room full of smiling, jovial faces. From the outside looking in, there was no doubt that this was a celebration – a coming together of friends and family who worked endless hours together renovating the home with tender love and care in the preparation of this big evening. Only moments after arriving, being introduced to Colleen Stone, Habitat for Humanity Sangamon County Executive Director, and taking a quick tour, Shawna, and her two daughters arrived to tears of joy and hugs all-around.
On this particular evening, Mike Pennell was the master of ceremonies and called out a warm greeting to begin the dedication celebration. Shawna, like all Habitat Partner Families, had successfully completed the 12 months of required educational classes, put in 250 hours of sweat equity, and was now standing before us accepting a collaborative piece from the Illinois Prairie Pastel Society, food that was handpicked by Elaina Feurerbach at Central Illinois Food Bank, a Bible – a long-standing Habitat for Humanity tradition, house blessing, and finally, her keys to the home. The ceremony was to the point, but memorable and full of touching stories and more tears of joy. This house meant more than just a place to sleep at night; it was a journey that the group of individuals gathered there this evening weathered together to create a place of love.
The newly renovated Morton Avenue house is now home to its third Habitat Partner family and was purchased from the previous owner, Dan Snow, through an agreement made after he heard Shawna’s story and saw just how perfect of a fit this home would be for Shawna - who has a daughter in a wheelchair.
"I am thrilled to be a homeowner, but even more overjoyed by the freedom and independence Elisia, who has a wheelchair, has in our new home. She has complete access - in the house and out. It's been life-changing for all of us,” said Shawna.
Shawna, Elisia, and Eliana will now begin a new chapter of their lives, complete with a no-interest mortgage for up to 30 years and a place to call home for the holidays.
For many hardworking families in Sangamon County, safe, affordable, and decent housing is simply out of reach - Shawna’s happy ending wouldn’t be possible without every lent hand coming together to make a difference. Together, we can help Habitat make 2017 an amazing year for at least four families on the homeownership waiting list. Have your New Year’s resolution be to join with Habitat – and families like Shawna’s - to build long-term strength and stability throughout our community.
For information on how you can help, please visit www.habitatsangamon.com or call (217) 523-2710.
Photo Credit: Habitat for Humanity of Sangamon County & Eighteen21