(2010) Habitat Home #19: Weldon

(2010) Habitat Home #19: Weldon

Habitat home brings family back together

Dec 11, 2010

WELDON — An area family will be celebrating their first Christmas as homeowners thanks to Habitat for Humanity.

James Travis Jr., 37, and his wife Melissa Smallwood, 35, are living in their own home, which will officially be dedicated this afternoon at 2 p.m. as Habitat for Humanity’s 19th home in the Roanoke Valley serving their 21st family.

Travis and Smallwood are joined by their two children, Skylah, 8, and Jordan, 7, and nephew Frederick Goode, 15, in their home on Turner Street in Weldon.

“Words cannot describe it,” Smallwood said of the feeling of being a new homeowner. “Words simply cannot describe it. The children are very excited. My husband, I think, is more excited than they are. It’s marvelous.”

This happy conclusion comes after the family’s second attempt to obtain Habitat for Humanity housing, their first was in 2007. After not qualifying the first time, Smallwood and Travis found their marriage suffering and even lived apart for a time, but are now coming together in their own home.

“My husband was living with his sister, and I was renting three bedrooms upstairs from a gentleman,” Smallwood said. “But we get to come together in our own home.”

Smallwood said she and Travis were already on the road to reconciliation and she thinks the positive energy generated by their efforts to get back together helped get this house on their second attempt, which happened in 2009 just as they were really fixing their marriage.

However, being approved for a Habitat for Humanity home is only the first step. Families must put in 400 hours of what is called “sweat equity” into the home, 100 hours from each adult living under the roof, and then the rest from family or friends, according to Rachel Lander, coordinator for Halifax-Northampton Habitat for Humanity.

“This house needed some work,” Lander said. “We replaced the outside deck, replaced the heating and air conditioning system, redid the kitchen, installed new appliances, new carpeting and new flooring throughout the house.”

Families completing their required sweat equity then get the home with a 20-year, interest-free loan for the amount of money it took to renovate the house, plus they must pay into an escrow account used to pay insurance and taxes.

Smallwood said the work was worth it.

“I learned so much,” Smallwood said. “I got to install the sink and got to do the plumbing work with my grandfather, He did a lot. We painted, we did the porch, we did a whole lot of stuff.”

With this job completed, Lander said the organization is looking for another family to receive a Habitat for Humanity home. They have two lots in Roanoke Rapids and one in Littleton. Interested families should call Rachel Lander at 252-537-2556 or 252-537-3008.

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