TEMPLE — A small group gathered in the warmth of the living room Saturday morning for the dedication of a new home for Dana Johnson and her three grandchildren.
“I’ve already got my furniture ready to come,” she said. “I’m just happy and blessed.”
It took workers about four months to completely remodel the house, at 1122 S. 38th St. in Temple, said Bill Generali, construction superintendent for Bell County Habitat for Humanity.
This was a former Habitat home, he said, that deteriorated after being abandoned for about four years. Earlier this year, Steve Church, executive director of Bell County Habitat, called Johnson and invited her to look at it.
Generali said he was hoping the cleanup crew would finish before she saw it.
When he arrived at the house, one of the workers told him, “There was a lady here, and she said she wanted it.”
Generali said he was surprised anyone would want the house in that state. Everything inside the four-bedroom, two-bath house had to be replaced, he said, from the wallboard out.
At the end of the dedication ceremony, he handed Johnson the key.
“It’s mine!” she said. “Thank you all for coming. I really appreciate it. I will enjoy my home.”
Her grandson, James, 12, said he loved the house. He’s in the seventh grade at South Belton Middle School. Henry, 7, and Saniah, 6, attend Miller Heights Elementary in Belton.
Saniah said she liked the house because “I’m having my own room.” Henry looked at his grandmother.
“Tell him you like it because it’s pretty,” she said.
“It’s pretty,” he said.
Church said Habitat sells the homes at a reduced price, based on people’s ability to pay. “This enables them to obtain that American dream. It’s basically Christianity with its sleeves rolled up, a community coming together working with those who are less fortunate.”
The houses are sold to the new owners with up to a 30-year zero interest mortgage, he said.
The buyers can earn “sweat equity” by doing volunteer work. Johnson worked at the construction site and at Habitat’s office in Killeen, he said, despite mobility problems.
After she was involved in an automobile accident, doctors told her she would not be able to walk, but she recovered enough to get around with a walker.
Church said Bell County Habitat, which also serves Lampasas and Coryell counties, builds two or three houses a year.
Johnson’s house was number 66 since 1994.
He said it usually takes about 2,000 volunteer hours to prepare a Habitat home.
Church thanked a list of 21 sponsors, headed up by United Way Central Texas. Adam Martin, Bell County Habitat president, recognized various community members and volunteers who contributed to the project.
Ken Whipple, a Habitat board member, presented Johnson with a Bible. “Just as this house must be built with a strong foundation, so must our lives,” he said. “As Christians, we believe the Bible is that foundation.”
For more information on Habitat, go to www.forthoodareahabitat.org or stop by the office at 2601 Atkinson Ave. in Killeen.