“When people have a safe place to live they can rebuild their lives,” said Susan Morris, Waleska resident and Habitat for Humanity volunteer. “In the process of creating a Habitat home, a community is built. This inspires the homeowner and volunteers involved to pay it forward.”
As a woman who likes to work in construction, Morris clearly understands the value of building more than just things; she works to build up others, especially women. Her most recent endeavor is the meaningful, inaugural all-women Habitat build that began in February in Forsyth County. Morris, along with women from around our area, has helped raise $90,000 and has built an entire house from the ground up.
Another Cherokee County resident, Cheryl Mosley, caught the pay-it-forward spirit years ago while sitting in a chemotherapy room. She was undergoing treatment for breast cancer. Life perspectives change while facing a disease such as cancer. Things that really matter come into clear focus.
“While waiting in a treatment room, I picked up a magazine,” Mosley said. “I read an article about a Methodist minister and breast cancer survivor in Dallas, Texas, who was facilitating a Habitat build for a single mother, also a breast cancer survivor. I thought this would be an amazing way to celebrate recovery! I got excited about Habitat and was determined to get involved.”
Since that pivotal day in 2015, Mosley has helped raise funds and has worked on four homes with Habitat for Humanity—North Central Georgia (Habitat NCG). The historical all-women build is her latest project.
Habitat NCG, an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, is an independent, locally run organization responsible for its own funding, family selection and education, land acquisition and development, home construction, and mortgage origination and servicing. In January 2006, the Habitat affiliates in North Fulton, Cherokee, Forsyth, and Dawson counties merged to form Habitat NCG to better address the housing needs in the growing communities of metro Atlanta.
Today, Habitat NCG has built 318 homes and repaired 75, serving more than 1,500 individuals throughout the region. Its motto is: Building strength, stability, and self-reliance through shelter. The women-build empowers female volunteers to participate in an exciting experience constructing a home for a local family. Since nationally 60% of the heads of households are women, this also provides a hands-on opportunity for women to be proactive in addressing the low-income housing needs in our communities.
The homeowner for this year’s women build is Tishawna Loving. She works for Northside Hospital-Forsyth and is a mom of two high-schoolers. Recently widowed, she moved with her children to Georgia from New York to be near her sister. Loving discovered the Habitat program and decided to apply. Habitat homes are not free. Each recipient must meet income requirements, be gainfully employed for two continuous years, pass a stringent background check, put in a significant amount of sweat equity before getting their own home, plus make a down payment. They have an interest-free mortgage with Habitat-NCG once they move in.
“We moved here in 2016,” Loving said. “It was tough. Becoming a homeowner was one of the biggest prayers for me and my children. I did not see this as a possibility in New York City. Yes, God has blessed us in such a huge way. Not only are we getting a house, we are getting to help build it, and we got to meet some amazing women who are helping us as well.”
The invitation to get on board and volunteer is open. The next all-women build is scheduled for 2021 in Cherokee County. For more information, visit habitat-ncg.org. For questions or to reserve a sponsorship, contact Laura Lilly, Women Build 2020 chair at firstname.lastname@example.org or 770-587-9679.
– Susan Schulz, a wife, mom, writer and mentor who lives and plays along the Etowah River in Canton.