• John McGary, Woodford Sun Editor

A ‘dream come true’, 40th Habitat for Humanity home dedicated

The people who began building a house for a Versailles family in June gathered at 115 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard Sunday, Sept. 22, to celebrate the project’s completion – and hand the keys to the new homeowner. The Sunday, Sept. 22, event marked the 40th home built by Woodford County Habitat for Humanity volunteers in the last 35 years – with plenty of help from beneficiaries like Ann Florian. Florian, a Woodford County native, was there with her two sons, Justice and Desmon (daughter, Sacoyia, was at a soccer tournament in Louisville) – and dozens of the people who helped build her new home. “Amazing,” she said when asked how she felt. “Like a dream come true.” The dream became reality after a lot of hard work by Habitat volunteers, most without a background in the construction trade. Asked about her prior experience in the field, Florian chuckled. “I wouldn’t say ‘level of expertise,’ but I’ve done a lot. I’ve worked on the roof, I’ve done all the splash guards, I’ve put in some flooring, helped do some windows, some painting – a little bit of everything,” she said. Her children, ranging in age from 17 to 10, pitched in as well, she said. Florian misted up when asked about the people who picked her as the next Habitat client, then helped build the 1,200 square foot house, which has three bedrooms, a bath-and-a-half and is, she said, “gorgeous.” “These people are amazing. Truly. You don’t meet people like this every day …” she said. Before the dedication ceremony, Ron Baker, chair of Woodford Habitat’s construction committee, explained how the process works. When the partner family is selected, they agree to put in “sweat equity,” and when the house is completed, the family is presented with a zero-interest mortgage, typically for 20 years, and no down payment, he said. “At the end of that time, they own the house, free and clear,” Baker said. “So Habitat typically acts as the bank for those 20 years, and the mortgage payments come to us. They also have a maintenance fund they pay into every month in addition to the mortgage …” Baker oversaw the project and was there nearly every day of the five-day-a-week construction schedule, and said his first reaction when the job was finished was “relief.” “It’s been pretty intense over the last three-and-a-half months, but it’s very gratifying. I just love doing the work. I’m a Christian and I love to serve the Lord and this is a way for us to serve him by serving this family,” Baker said. He said he was impressed by Florian’s work ethic and attitude. “She’s very high-energy. She has a positive attitude, very friendly. … Very hard worker. … She got up on the roof to shingle the roof, which I was kind of surprised (by), but she was not afraid to tackle anything. She’s a very strong young lady,” Baker said. Baker offered the opening prayer at the ceremony and spoke of the good Habitat for Humanity has done around the world. “In 2017 alone, 364,000 houses – more than a third of a million – were built or repaired worldwide. A crazy idea? Maybe it’s not so crazy after all,” Baker said. Woodford Habitat President Doug Searcy said, “Every Habitat house we build is a true miracle. … How does a miracle come about? Well, we have volunteers who are touched by Jesus Christ, who put sharing and caring in their heart …” Board member Bruce Finney praised the 40 adults and six children who volunteered a total of 2,500 hours on the project. “If you consider the first day we started, it was raining. Fortunately, by 8:30, 8 o’clock, the rain stopped, and we’ve had situations like that all summer long. Doug mentioned that the Lord was smiling on us, and that’s the truth,” Finney said. Baker led the assembled in a blessing of the house, Searcy presented Florian and her sons with a Bible, and board member Tony Stith handed her the house keys. “I just want to say thank you to everybody that has helped us through this,” Florian said, then apologized as she began to cry. “You definitely made my dreams come true, and anytime you guys ever need anything, I will definitely be there, because you guys have been great. Thank you very much.” As the crowd applauded, there was another surprise in store for Florian. She was handed a manila envelope, which she opened to find a certificate of occupancy obtained by Habitat officials allowing her to move in immediately. The crowd applauded and Florian, blinking back tears, thanked them again. Moments later, during the closing prayer by board member Dave Meyers, attendees put a hand on the home they built for a family of four.

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