Since last fall, Habitat's Youth United Initiative has been organizing youth from schools, faith groups and other organizations to build a home for Ann McRae and her two children.
The youth worked side-by-side with McRae to raise $50,000 through business sponsorships, letter-writing campaigns, 2x4 challenges, Habitat days, change-and-dollar drives, bake sales, grant writing, can collections and birdhouse construction and sales.
On Saturday, they started to build the house in east Durham's Hope Cross neighborhood, the first green, affordable-house community in the state.
"By the end of the day, all of the walls were standing – it was an amazing day," said Roxanne Hall Little, special-events manager of Habitat's Durham chapter. "We are so proud of what youth are doing in Durham – they are building homes, hope and community."
Youth will continue to work on the house until its dedication, set for May 16.
McRae, a health-unit coordinator at Duke Medical Center, said her family looks forward to moving into their new home.
Her daughter, Carlessia, 10, is an honor-roll student, and her son, Quartez, 17, attends high school and works at Duke University's East Campus Marketplace.
"Our family has been through a lot, and owning our own home is an answered prayer," McRae said. "It took a while, but it was right on time. Prayers are really answered. God is good all the time."
McRae's home will be the third completed by Youth United in three years.
"Youth United has proven that youth are not only our future but our present," said Simon Carsey, 15, a member of the group's leadership team. "Together, we are building higher expectations for service in ourselves and making our community a better place."