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A Home for Christmas

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Local family receives keys to Habitat for Humanity house

By Moreland Jeff

A local family received one of the best gifts this Christmas a family can have; their own home.

Lee and Jannifer Fisher, along with their four daughters, were the recipients of the most recent house built by Campbellsville/Taylor County Habitat for Humanity.

Saturday afternoon, a special ceremony to present the home to the family was held, and about 30 people were on hand.

The family learned of the Habitat for Humanity program while reading an article in the Central Kentucky News-Journal, according to Jannifer, and they began the process of applying and eventually qualifying to receive a Habitat for Humanity home in June of 2016.

The Fishers, along with their four daughters, Elyzabeth Fisher, 6, De’Asia Fisher, 9, Ka’Miya Fisher, 10, and Harley Allen, 10, were very excited to receive the keys to their new home right before Christmas. In addition to appliances and other items already being in the house, there was also a Christmas tree to set the mood for the season.

Jannifer said the family was very grateful, and Lee added that they could not imagine a better Christmas present than to get their home at Christmas.

As soon as the ceremony was completed, the family planned to move their belongings into their new home.

“We plan to get it all moved in today,” Lee said. “Then we’ve got a lot of organizing to do.”

As for the girls, they clearly understood the importance of the moment. As they walked through the home looking at each room, Ka’Miya said to her sisters, “I told you Christmas is about being with family, and not about presents.”

Gail Godsey, a member of the CTCHFH board of directors, said they have worked with the Fisher family to help them get ready to become homeowners.

“It’s a long, drawn out process. We want them to be ready to be homeowners,” Godsey said. “They were willing to do homeowner training, and we went through the extension office and got them some training.”

The training included lessons in financial responsibility, budgeting, gardening, and anything that would help them improve what they could do with their home, according to CTCHFH board chairman Ricky Malone. He added that the family is required to invest at least 300 hours of work into the project. Lee Fisher said his family, including the kids, spent about 500 hours helping with their home. Malone added that Lee Fisher helped with construction of the home, as well as Jannifer and their daughters helping with other projects on the site.

Many people believe Habitat for Humanity provides a free house to a family, but that is not the case. Godsey said the family pays for the house, but they do so with an interest-free mortgage over 20 years. She added that the money paid by one family will go into an account of the local Habitat for Humanity, and then later be used to help build another home for another family.

“We build the house to fit the family’s needs. This is the second four-bedroom house Habitat has built, but it’s the largest house we have built, at around 1,500 square feet,” Godsey explained. “We have to stay within Habitat for Humanity International guidelines.”

Ground was broken earlier this year, and the family received the keys to the house two days before Christmas.

“To dedicate and have the groundbreaking April 30, and to be here on Dec. 23, to dedicate this house and make it a home, it really is the true idea of Christmas, not only for me or Habitat board members, but this family,” Godsey said. “I feel truly blessed to know people who are willing to give their time and money and efforts to do this for somebody else.”

Malone said this is the eighth house built by CTCHFH, with the first being built in the Greenleaf subdivision in 2000, and that house has almost been paid off by the homeowner.

According to Malone, Dennis Brinley was construction manager of the Fisher home, and he used workers from a business he owns to help with the project. Brinley presented the keys to Jannifer near the completion of Saturday’s ceremony.

This house was the second built on Wickliffe Avenue, and the local Habitat group has three more lots on the street to build additional homes in the future. Malone said Habitat for Humanity International would like to see each organization build one house per year, but he stressed that the local group is very small and simply can’t financially afford to build a new house each year. However, he said they do other projects besides building homes to help people in need, including what he called “rehab projects” on existing homes that need some work.

“We helped a lady in Columbia last year. We received her name from our regional director in Elizabethtown,” Malone said. He added that local workers helped with the project, but no money from the Campbellsville Habitat group was used for the project; those funds were provided by the regional Habitat group.

Malone also pointed out that any donations to the local Habitat group stay here in the community and go to build locally, but donations made to Habitat for Humanity International can be used to build homes anywhere.

As a faith-based organization, Habitat for Humanity also does its part to tithe, and Malone said the group gives 10 percent of any general donations to the international group.

“If we receive money locally, unless it’s designated for the next house or a family, we tithe on that money. If it’s just a donation out of the blue, we donate 10 percent to the international group,” Malone said. He added that the local Habitat for Humanity group has selected Guatemala as the country that will receive any of the benefits of tithed money from Campbellsville. He said the country was selected because building costs are much lower there, and a home can be built in Guatemala for “a couple thousand dollars.”

Anyone interested in helping with Campbellsville/Taylor County Habitat for Humanity, or wanting information about receiving a Habitat house, can contact the organization at (270) 849-2373, or stop by Campbellsville Christian Church.