Family leaves makeshift-living solutions behind
Posted June 19, 2018 2:37 p.m. EDT
Updated July 13, 2018 2:09 p.m. EDT
Concord, N.C. — Any day now, Paditra Carlton will move out of the living room she has used as a bedroom. Her daughter Shannon, 12, will say goodbye to the dining room that's been her makeshift bedroom.
Carlton's two other children, Bristol, 21, and Kani'a, 16, will also leave the cramped two-bedroom rental they have called home for far too long.
Soon, Carlton will close on a new, four-bedroom home on Young Avenue in Concord. It's the 153rd house that Habitat for Humanity of Cabarrus County has built.
It is also one of 104 being built as part of the State Employees Credit Union Foundation's Mountains-to-the-Sea Challenge, a $10 million initiative to build at least one Habitat home in each of North Carolina's 100 counties.
"Words cannot explain how I feel," Carlton said May 22, 2018, during a dedication ceremony for her pretty new home. "It's something I have always dreamed of. It's stability."
"We welcome you to their lovely home that they have worked so hard on," said Katie Page, executive director of the Habitat affiliate, standing before the crowd of about three dozen Habitat volunteers, SECU officials and family that had gathered for the dedication. "This is when we see all of the work coming together."
Habitat Cabarrus has completed 42 homes in this neighborhood, Page explained. They stand out, bright with hope, in a neighborhood of winding streets, stately old trees and too many bleak homes. Habitat's work goes on; the 43rd house is going up right behind Paditra Carlton.
"Without the support of SECU we would not be here today," Page continued. "It has been phenomenal."
She also recognized Marc and William Niblock of Niblock Homes.
"They have really gone above and beyond. They provided support for labor and material, framing, roofing, siding. A very generous donation."
"This is what we do for a living, for almost 40 years," said William Niblock. "We believe home ownership builds strong families and strong communities."
Speaking directly to Carlton, he continued: "We hope that you have many wonderful years here and that this house is full of love and security and that you feel like you really belong here."
Procuring a Habitat for Humanity home is neither quick nor easy; applicants must have steady employment and good credit ratings. And they must put in hundreds of hours of "sweat equity" on their homes. Tiffany Brown, homeowner services coordinator for the Cabarrus affiliate, said that Paditra Carlton and her children had put in more than 500 sweat equity hours – and that was after Paditra has put in her 7 pm to 7 am shift as a certified nursing assistant.
It can be a two-year process, and the finale is nearly always emotional for the new homeowner.
"I really don't know what to say but thank you, everybody," Paditra told the crowd. "Thanks to SECU, partner families, my family, everybody who helped out."
She began tearing up.
"When I started out, all I wanted was a door," she said, finding her sense of humor. "God can make things happen with help from everybody."