published Sunday, June 19th, 2011

Habitat homeowners mark milestone

Letitia Smith, left, welcomes a crowd of family and well-wishers to her new home in Century Village during a Habitat for Humanity celebration in Cleveland, Tenn. Pastor A.B. Johnson Sr. of Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church listens.
Letitia Smith, left, welcomes a crowd of family and well-wishers to her new home in Century Village during a Habitat for Humanity celebration in Cleveland, Tenn. Pastor A.B. Johnson Sr. of Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church listens.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Century Village homeowners are getting five new neighbors.

The homeowners, friends and Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland’s volunteers and corporate sponsors held a celebration late last week to mark the completion of five new homes in the Habitat neighborhood.

After a dedication service, hundreds of people took part in a meal from local seafood restaurant Catch and local bakery Sifted. People assembled at the front door of each new house to watch the home-owner accept the keys and cut a ribbon from the front door.

“I told my children, ‘If we are going to get a house; it will be the will of God,’” said Emily Eaves, who applied to Habitat for home ownership in December 2009.

“There may be times in your life when you want to give up, but there are other times when you know to move forward,” Letitia Smith said to the group of family and well-wishers gathered at her front door to watch her receive the keys to her house.

She, too, praised God for her house.

Habitat participants must spend some “sweat equity” during their home’s construction. Some worked in Habitat’s ReStore here, and some also helped at the construction site.

“We do this one day at a time,” Smith said. “Today it’s the key. Then comes the mortgage,” she said while wiping away tears.

Matt Carlson, Cleveland Habitat director, watched the neighborhood dedication service from the crowd.

The celebration brought Century Village’s neighborhood to about two dozen homes. Habitat’s goal is to build 10 homes this year.

The neighborhood is called Century Village, Carlson said, because when Habitat completes its 100th home next year, it will be on the last lot left in the neighborhood.

Habitat has built other homes across Cleveland, and they all count toward that 100 goal.

Habitat volunteers have taken on a new mission, too, Carlson said. During the building of the five homes, volunteers took time to help make repairs for some April 27 tornado victims.

“We are so proud of our volunteers,” said Freda Davis, another new homeowner. “I sent a prayer of thanksgiving to God that day for all of them.”

about Randall Higgins...

Randall Higgins covers news in Cleveland, Tenn., for the Times Free Press. He started work with the Chattanooga Times in 1977 and joined the staff of the Chattanooga Times Free Press when the Free Press and Times merged in 1999. Randall has covered Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia and Alabama. He now covers Cleveland and Bradley County and the neighboring region. Randall is a Cleveland native. He has bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Technological University. His awards ...

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