For a while, Cambridge resident Keyondra had harbored the idea of becoming a Habitat for Humanity homeowner in the back of her mind. But about 8 months ago, after seeing a Facebook story about another local woman who had taken the plunge, she began taking the first steps on a similar journey.
Turning the dream into reality took a dedicated effort involving nearly a year attending educational meetings, earning sweat equity, and staying on a sound financial course, all while working full time. Throughout, family members pitched in with practical and moral support.
Keyondra’s Habitat coach, Jennifer Grier, along with the organization’s other staff members and cadre of construction volunteers, offered invaluable measures of dedication and know-how.
On Saturday, November 12 at 9 a.m., as the cordoned off 400 block of Pine Street filled with joyous well wishes, Keyondra officially became the organization’s 100th soon to be homeowner in its 30 year history of helping Dorchester and Talbot counties build homes, community, and hope.
Under sparkling sunshine following Friday’s stormy weather, Keyondra and her smiling family were joined by Mayor Steve Rideout, 3rd Ward Commissioner Jameson Harrington, and Habitat Choptank staff representatives including Board Vice President Jodi Cavanaugh, Client Services Manager Pat Ingram, Construction Supervisor Scott Baynard, and Executive Director JoAnn Hansen.
Reverend Jerome E. Tilghman, Sr. of Waugh Chapel and St. Luke United Methodist Church offered the ceremony’s invocation, the closing benediction, a Prayer of Dedication and presented Keyondra with a bible.
He quoted from Psalm 127:1, “Unless the Lord Builds a House, the Builders Labor in Vain,” explaining it as a metaphoric reference for God’s direct involvement in our lives. Tilghman also commended Habitat for “this ministry, which has so graciously given to this community.”
He also noted that the Hebrew word for home appears nearly 1,000 times in the Bible.
“The word represents, not only a primary dwelling place, but also one’s sense of self identity, security, and place in the world.”
Tilghman fondly recalled the serendipitous circumstance of having personal childhood memories associated with the lot where Keyondra’s new home arose.
“When I was in high school, my classmate Terry Matthews lived with his family, right here on this spot, and we would come here almost every day after school, heading upstairs to Terry’s bedroom until his brother Butch ran us all out of the house,” he laughed.
Mary Helen Gillen, Pickering Creek Director of Education, gifted Keyondra with an oak tree sapling, explaining that it represented longevity while also providing cooling shade and enduring beauty. Gillen noted Pickering Creek’s pride in its ongoing partnership with Habitat, helping new homeowners opt for Bay friendly landscaping.
Julia Barker, past president of the women’s group Partners in Giving, and fellow member Julie Fox, also a longtime Habitat volunteer and partner coach, gifted Keyondra with a large welcome basket laden with housewarming supplies, and Jeff Cornwall, Cambridge Rotary Club President, donated a stocked toolbox to the new homeowner.
Before presenting her with keys and scissors to officially snip open the sky blue ribbon ornamenting the front door, Construction Supervisor Baynard gave Keyondra a $100 gift certificate to Habitat’s ReStore located on Commerce Drive in Easton.
In her closing remarks, Hansen addressed Habitat’s fulfilling 30 year mission of making home ownership a reality, thanks to working in partnership with God and all people.
Congratulating Keyondra, she said, “The fact is, that the woman on my left is dedicated, has persevered, and overcome, to soon become the owner of this home,” her words meeting with cheers and applause from the crowd.
Hansen added that it’s God who provides the home’s foundation. “I promise you he will meet you everywhere in this house, wherever you are, even when the storms come, and they will come, but if you stand on that foundation, and that of your family and community, God will support you and lift you up, always.”
Rev. Tilghman echoed those sentiments in his benediction.
“Just as God builds his Kingdom, one person at a time, we build this community one home at a time.”
For more information, or to volunteer, visit www.habitatchoptank.org.
About Habitat Choptank
Since 1992, Habitat Choptank has made homeownership possible for 100 families and has completed critical health and safety repairs in partnership with over 300 qualifying homeowners in Dorchester and Talbot Counties. By building and rehabbing homes, Habitat Choptank helps families achieve better health, financial freedom, independence, stability, and security. Visit habitatchoptank.org to volunteer or apply for homeownership or home repair.