HUNTINGTON - Marie Patterson will always remember Monday for the happiness her new home brought her and her three children.
Patterson is now the owner of a new, five-bedroom, 1,440-square-foot house in the 1700 block of Monroe Avenue in Huntington - so new that hay still covered the front yard where grass would grow and the children would play. So new, the smell of fresh paint was still in the hallways.
"It's a dream come true for my family," Patterson said.
Patterson bought the home through the Huntington WV Area Habitat for Humanity's home buying program.
Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit, ecumenical, Christian ministry, the mission of which is to partner with qualified families in need, and provide them the opportunity for safe, decent and affordable housing.
On Monday, the Huntington Habitat organization hosted its 111th dedication celebration for Patterson and her three children.
"This is a wonderful blessing for me and my children," Patterson said. "And I want to thank my church family, my friends and everyone and every agency involved to make this dream a reality."
During Monday's dedication ceremony, Patterson received the keys to her new home and gifts to help stock it.
David Michael, executive director and CEO of the local organization, was there to congratulate the family and celebrate with them.
"This is just a wonderful day for this family and to see how excited and happy they are brings so much joy to all of us," Michael said.
The new home was built on a vacant lot purchased by the organization with funding from the local Habitat for Humanity and money that was donated by First Presbyterian Church in Huntington in partnership with the City of Huntington HOME Program, the Affordable Housing Fund and the Huntington WV Area Habitat for Humanity ReStore, according to Michael.
"Special thanks to the Facing Hunger Foodbank and Woodmen Life for their generous donations of food and an American flag to the new homeowner," he said.
Family, friends, volunteers and representatives of companies and organizations that helped Habitat for Humanity were there as well. There were also representatives from federal, state and local government, including Michael Browning with the office of U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who welcomed the family and praised the local organization for its efforts.
"Huntington WV Area Habitat for Humanity provides an irreplaceable service to this entire region," Manchin said in a letter. "I have always said that what makes West Virginia some of the best people in our nation is the unwavering commitment to helping a neighbor in need."
But the real stars of the day were Patterson and her three children, 17-year-old Walajia Williams, 13-year-old Walter Williams III, and 7-year-old Azaria.
Walajia opened the event by performing a beautiful dance in front of the new home.
Patterson said she was living in Bluefield, West Virginia, before moving to Huntington three years ago to work for Valley Health full time and Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Huntington part time.
"When I came here to find a place it was hard to find something the right size that I could afford," she explained.
Patterson said after talking with a friend who had a Habitat for Humanity home, she decided to apply.
Part of the organization's process is requiring future homeowners to work toward their goal, and Patterson and her children did.
"It was lots of sweat equity, but it was so worth it and this program is such a blessing to me and my children," Patterson said.
The project started in late April, while the organization was also in the process of building two other homes, Michael said.
"If we had one house and no volunteer groups we could probably build a house in 90 days or less, start to finish," he said.
On this particular house, several volunteers and Habitat staff put in a lot of hours, too. Also helping with the project was the United Way of the River Cities and the West Virginia Housing Development Fund, Michael added.
Michael said Patterson was able to purchase the home with a 0% loan through the organization's program.
"Included in her monthly payment are a zero percent Habitat mortgage, property insurance, property taxes, municipal service and refuse fees to the City of Huntington," Michael explained. "We ensure that every Habitat homeowner pays those fees to the City of Huntington and there is no other program that does that."
Michael says the organization takes pride that the city and the county receive over $51,000 a year at a minimum.
Since 2002, the Cabell-Huntington-Wayne Housing Consortium, through the City of Huntington’s HOME Program (Home Investment Partnership Program), has partnered with the Huntington West Virginia Area Habitat for Humanity with in excess of $1.1 million to assist in the construction, and in some instances purchasing, of thirty-eight (38) new homes in the City of Huntington and Cabell County.
Michael says the Huntington WV Area Habitat for Humanity is building on average about eight houses a year.
"We hope that will expand in the future," he said.
For more information on how to become involved or volunteer, call 304-523-4822, or visit online at www.hahabitat.org. You can also follow them on Facebook at Huntington WV Area Habitat for Humanity.
Follow reporter Fred Pace at Facebook.com/FredPaceHD and via Twitter at @FredPaceHD.