It was a homecoming celebration in east Winter Garden as West Orange Habitat for Humanity welcomed its newest homeowner, Shellonda Hill, to Green Oaks Row.
As of Tuesday, March 26, Hill and her three children — Ja’Mya, Charles and Ny’lah — are the recipients of the second house in the three-home affordable-housing community. Hill is one of three single mothers to partner with WOHFH and work toward owning a home. Green Oaks Row started in July 2017 and is one of WOHFH’s first major projects in the east Winter Garden area.
As with any Habitat for Humanity home, the new homeowner is required to put in 300 hours of sweat equity and attend homeownership and financial-literacy classes, put a down payment on their homes and pay back an interest-free mortgage.
“We really appreciate everyone coming out for such an exciting day, to give Shellonda the gift of a new home she’s worked so hard for,” said Kenny Ermann, president of the WOHFH board of directors. “This is our second house on Green Oaks Row, with a third one to come up out of the ground this week. … At West Orange Habitat for Humanity, we believe in a world where everyone has a decent place to live. We empower through shelter, and we’re able to help people really come up in their lives through the shelter that we provide.”
Winter Garden District 3 City Commissioner Mark Maciel attended the celebration and expressed his excitement over the partnership between WOHFH and the city of Winter Garden.
“It is a fantastic project, and I get excited every time I drive by here,” Maciel said. “I see the people working, and it just amazes me — the different crews I see out here every day. This gets us a step closer to where we need to be in Winter Garden for east Winter Garden. The good news is there are organizations like Habitat and the city that will work together — this is such a great example of two organizations working together, city and nonprofits. It’s all about the partnership to make things happen. More importantly, I think we’re here for Shellonda, and we want to welcome her to the neighborhood.”
Before Hill and her children cut the ribbon to their new home, she stepped up to the microphone to share a few words of thanks with everyone in attendance.
“I just want to say thanks to everyone, both for the ones who are not here and for the ones who are,” she said. “This has been a long, trying journey, but I appreciate everything everyone has done and I love Habitat and plan on giving back. Thank you, thank you, thank you again.”
The third and final home on Green Oaks Row is under construction now.
For more information on WOHFH, Green Oaks Row or how to give back, visit westorangehabitat.org.