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Family to receive Habitat house

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Ground broken for Wickliffe Avenue home

By Calen McKinney

 

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It's been a year and a half in the making.

But last Sunday, Campbellsville resident Tina G. Dishman saw her dream start to become a reality.

Careful to not disturb the lines that mark where it will soon be built, Dishman's son, Daniel Caton, leads her around what will soon be their new home - the first she has ever owned. The home might appear small, but she says it will be full of faith and love.

Campbellsville/Taylor County Habitat for Humanity has built six homes in the community for qualifying low-income residents. And now, after the lengthy application process and winter weather delayed the project, Dishman's will soon be the seventh.

Habitat board members joined Dishman and her family on Sunday to break ground on her home, which will be on Wickliffe Avenue. Organizers say it will take a few months to complete the work.

Barbara Cunningham, who is involved with selecting the families who will receive Habitat homes, said Dishman became involved with Habitat when she volunteered to help clean up at another home project. It was there that someone asked why she hadn't applied for a home.

At the time, however, the Habitat organization didn't own any land in an area Dishman felt she could live. Dishman, who is legally blind, walks wherever she needs to go.

But now, Cunningham said, Habitat has purchased five lots on Wickliffe Avenue and Dishman's home will be the first of five homes the organization will build there.

Wickliffe Avenue is close to many restaurants and stores, Dishman said, and her church, Lowell Avenue Baptist Church, where she teaches Sunday School.

Those qualifying for the Habitat program, Cunningham said, must have a need for adequate shelter, be willing to partner with Habitat and work for their home and be able to pay for it.

There are 11 Habitat board members and an administrative assistant. Habitat has an office in the Campbellsville Civic Center.

Paul Patton and Ricky Malone formed the organization in 1997, and three years later it became an official affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International.

Cunningham said Habitat is a nonprofit Christian housing ministry that builds houses for hard-working families in Campbellsville and Taylor County. Habitat's first home was built on Greenleaf Drive in 2001. The last home was built in 2009 on Gupton Court.

While it has been five years since a home was built, Cunningham said Habitat organizers had to allow their bank account to build up again after they bought the five lots of land on Wickliffe Avenue.

Habitat is supported by private donations, mortgage payments made by current Habitat homeowners and donations of materials and labor, from those pitching in to help clean up after a home is built to Whirlpool donating a stove and refrigerator to every new Habitat home.

Cunningham said at the groundbreaking that Dishman was very involved with the application process, and was determined to have all the required paperwork.

"But there were lots of hurdles to overcome," Cunningham said. "She was very willing to work with us and we were willing to try."

Dishman began the application process in November 2012. She was told last summer that she would receive a Habitat home.

"One and a half years later, finally, Tina, here we are," Cunningham said.

Sandy Gaskins will serve as building superintendent for Dishman's home. Many other people will be involved with building Dishman's home, donating materials and labor to the project.

Cunningham said finances are often the most difficult part of Habitat.

"It's really hard for such a small group," she said.

Some local churches, individuals and civic organizations donate to Habitat regularly, Cunningham said, which helps.

"So many people in town donate," she said. "It's a supportive community."

However, Tonya Young, chair of Habitat's family support committee, said costs to build a home have increased over the years, which means donations don't cover as much as they used to. This means Habitat board members have to work even harder to keep the cost of construction down.

And when the financial aspect is worked out, Cunningham said, Habitat recipients must be willing to put in their end of the bargain.

Dishman was required to take online classes to learn about how to care for a home, from learning about maintenance to budgeting.

"Things I've never had to deal with," she said.

Cunningham said Dishman has worked hard to understand finances and how to budget for a home.

"Not only is she getting a house ... she's gonna have a good financial base because of what she's had to go through to qualify."

Dishman must contribute 300 sweat equity hours to her home, and she's on her way to completing them. She volunteers at a local school and will pitch in to clean up the construction site.

Dishman, who was born in Louisville but moved to Campbellsville from Florida, said Habitat is very present there, and she knew when coming back home she wanted to become involved with the organization. She lived in Campbellsville during her childhood and considers it home.

Dishman said the idea of owning her own home is exciting.

"A little scary," she said. "But mostly exciting. And knowing that everything's brand new helps. I'd be afraid of buying somebody else's troubles."

Dishman has had plenty of time to plan her decorating schemes, but said she had to have a bit of help.

"It's really fun because I'm color blind," she said.

Her bedroom will be a light gray. Daniel's room and the bathroom will be painted in shades of blue. The kitchen will be sage.

Dishman said she especially likes that Gaskins asked for some of her favorite scriptures, which will be printed and placed inside the walls of her home. And, Cunningham said, a Bible is also placed inside each Habitat house.

Those who receive Habitat homes pay a 20-year interest free mortgage payment. They are also responsible for taxes and insurance.

Young said she believes Dishman is a good candidate for the Habitat program.

"She has the desire to want to improve her situation," Young said. "She's lived up to her commitment so far and time has shown that."

So far, Young said, all those in Taylor County who have worked with Habitat have kept their homes and successfully paid for them.

Dishman said there were times that she got discouraged, thinking she would never see her home built. But her faith is what kept her thinking positively.

"I was like, 'Oh please let this happen, we've come so far,'" she said.

"Anything worth doing is worth doing right."

Cunningham said those interested in applying to be placed on a waiting list for a Habitat home can visit Green River Ministries.

For more information about Habitat for Humanity, or to volunteer with the organization, call (270) 849-2373.