Habitat For Humanity: Placing People in Safer Homes


Denise’s Story

Denise Copeland woke up one night with a really unpleasant sensation. She thought she heard something suspicious, but couldn’t be sure. She tried telling herself that it was nothing.

Then her two teenage daughters called to her, insisting that something was definitely wrong. With mounting anxiety, Copeland began checking the doors and windows. Then, to her horror, she discovered that someone had cut through the screen door and had tried to open the sliding glass door behind it.

Copeland knew she was living in a bad neighborhood. Besides the would-be intruder, there was drug trafficking, and as Copeland puts it, some of the boys in the neighborhood were “extra bad,” ruining property or being noisy at all hours.

Copeland badly wanted a home of her own in a safe neighborhood. However, to buy such a home through traditional channels, she’d have to pay $600 a month towards her mortgage, and she’d need money for the down payment.

To raise that kind of money, she would have needed to take a second job. That, in turn, would have meant being away from her two daughters still more. As a concerned and caring mother, that just didn’t seem like a good option.

It must have been a depressing time, knowing that she needed to leave the area and being totally unable to do so. Then something extraordinary happened, something that transformed her life.

Enter Habitat for Humanity

Copeland heard about Habitat on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. She learned that Habitat is a volunteer ministry dedicated to eliminating poverty housing.

She found out that if she was accepted, she would be eligible to receive her own home. However, the home would not be a gift.

She, like all the other recipients of Habitat houses, would have to put in 500 hours of “sweat equity”, working with others to help construct simple 1000 square foot houses.

In addition she also would have to attend 5 workshops, and she would need to have $900 to cover the settlement costs, including the lawyer fee, and the filing of deeds. She would also have to pay $273 a month for the next 20 years to help Habitat finance future houses. For her, all of this was a tiny price to pay to have her family live in a safe environment with decent housing.

A Safer Home and New Opportunities

The new house transformed her life. In addition to the joy of having her dream come true, and the pleasure that comes from feeling safe, she’s also found that the low mortgage payments have helped her in yet another way. She’s been able to take night classes at Wor-Wic Tech.

She expects to get her Associate in Applied Arts degree by the end of this year. Her new skills have already won her a raise at work.

Habitat makes a habit of transforming people’s lives. So far the organization has built 33 houses. “Our goal,” says Gary Desjardins, Habitat’s President, “is to remove as many children as we can from unhealthy environments into one where they feel safe.”

A new 1000 square foot house today costs Habitat $59,600, includes the lot, the materials and the construction. Funding for the construction materials comes from the mortgages that the homeowners pay to Habitat, plus donations from the community.

Mary Beers, the Office Manager joins Gary Desjardins in wishing that they could help still more people. Eighty-one people are waiting for new houses, and Habitat has had to close the list because the demand so far exceeds the supply.

Habitat on Maryland’s Lower Shore is an Agency of the United Way. Wish List: TV/VCR Camera Paper Folders Small Table More Members for the Carpenter’s Club (Carpenter’s Club Members contribute $35 four times a year, plus an initial membership fee of $20.) Habitat on Maryland’s Lower Shore P.O. Box 107 Salisbury, MD 21803-0107 410 546 1551


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