West Orange Habitat for Humanity officially has broken ground on its next three homes, to be built on Bethune Avenue in east Winter Garden. The ceremony was held Wednesday, Feb. 1, and the three future homeowners were present and eager to participate.
Construction already has begun on the home for Charlotte Thornton and her family. The second and third homes will be started soon for LaTanya Hardy and Latoya Jackson and their families.
“I’m blessed to be coming back to Winter Garden, my hometown,” Thornton said. “I left homeless and returned to a home.”
She is a single mother who works two jobs — at Orlando Lutheran Towers and Conway Lakes Health and Rehabilitation – CAN. She has a 12-year-old daughter, and they live in a studio apartment.
Hardy said she has overcome barriers to get to a place of homeownership. The single mother is an instructor at Valencia College, and she lives with her brother with two of her three children, 17-year-old twins, one of whom requires a full-time caregiver. Hardy also has a 24-year-old daughter.
Jackson said she is overwhelmed to think that in three months she will be in her own home. She is a single mother with one 3-year-old daughter, and they are living with a friend in a mold-infested apartment in an unsafe area. She works at Planned Parenthood.
Jo Barsh, president of the local Habitat board of directors, was one of the program speakers.
“No matter who we are or where we come from, everyone deserves a decent life,” she said. “Everyone wants to feel strength and stability day after day. We want to know we have the power to action — to bring people together to build homes, communities and hope.”
West Orange Habitat oversees the construction of these single-family residences using sustainable materials and environmentally friendly building and landscaping practices. In addition to existing partners and volunteers, West Orange Habitat seeks strategic relationships with other interested corporations, churches and community organizations to help expand the organization’s volunteer and material resources.
The organization has partnered with volunteers, donors and Habitat homeowners to build, renovate and repair more than 45 homes.
Habitat homeowners demonstrate a housing need, contribute sweat equity hours and agree to repay a no-interest mortgage. They pay no more than 30% of their household income on housing with Habitat.
To become involved with Habitat, visit westorangehabitat.org, call (407) 809-4411 or email [email protected].
“We believe that everyone deserves a safe place to call home,” Barsh said.