A home for the holidays

DOVER — When it comes to Christmas surprises, Tierea Chisholm has an enormous, life-changing one in store for her 5-year-old daughter Ahmani next Tuesday.

It’s bigger than any toy and sweeter than a candy cane — it is a house for the pair to live in just one year after Ms. Chisholm experienced a hardship that left the pair homeless.

Ms. Chisholm cut the ribbon on the two-story home that she built at 19 North New Street alongside volunteers with the Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity on Friday afternoon.

The only element missing at the ribbon-cutting was Ahmani, whom Ms. Chisholm plans on driving to the house on Christmas morning and revealing her big surprise — a brand-new home for the family to live in.

“I’m just ecstatic,” Ms. Chisholm said. “I can’t wait to see her face. She doesn’t think that (the house is) going to be ready until her birthday, which is in June.

“It’s been a long process, but a fulfilling process. There was never a moment where I didn’t feel fulfilled coming out and working on not only just my home, but other homes.”

The Chisholm home marked Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity’s (CDHFH) seventh new home dedication in 2018 and the fifth in Dover’s Downtown Development District.

By the end of the year, CDHFH hopes to dedicate at least one more home, also on North New Street.

Frank Daniels, president of the board of directors for CDHFH, beams with pride when he looks around and sees the positive results the organization’s volunteers and homeowners have made.

“You can see what we’re doing here with the Downtown Development District with the support of the city of Dover and the mayor and his folks and the council – Just one block at a time,” Mr. Daniels said. “It’s a slow process, but it’s working. I think that’s the key is that it’s working and we’re making it better for everyone.”

Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen said finding partners who are willing to make a difference has been important in trying to reverse the stigma that if often associated with the downtown area.

“One of the things I was discussing with my daughter on the way here was how over the last four years we’ve developed partnerships with Habitat for Humanity, NCALL and some private individuals who have decided to clean up our downtown area … and it is a partnership,” Mayor Christiansen said.

“We’re so proud that Habitat chose to target this area (North New Street) and improve this neighborhood because the more families that are invested in our downtown area will make it a community that it used to be.”

The Chisholm’s new home is gray and white, stands two stories tall, is about 1,500-square-feet, has a front porch and is built for to be energy efficient.

CDHFH volunteers presented Ms. Chisholm with a cornhole game set at the dedication and she also received a basket full of household goods for her new home.

The past year has been quite a journey for Ms. Chisholm, who had to put 250 hours of sweat equity into her new home.

While living in the Shepherd’s Place homeless shelter last year, she found herself at an information booth for the Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity at a Halloween event.

“After gathering all the materials that were needed, we partnered with Habitat for Humanity in January 2018 and since then we have been welcomed into a family that has given us the tools to not only become financially stable, but the knowledge to maintain that stability – as well as our home,” Ms. Chisholm said.

“Every hour spent fulfilling my sweat equity requirements has been a learning experience and I have gained so many tools that will help me to be a successful homeowner.”

She said that she hopes one day her daughter will take over the home. As of now, her daughter doesn’t even know she has one.

However, that will all change on Christmas morning.

“My daughter and I are so grateful to have gone through this experience, but make no mistake, Habitat for Humanity did not just give or build us a house,” said Ms. Chisholm, “but rather together we built a home where I can raise my child without the worry of it being ripped away.

“Together, Habitat for Humanity and I built a foundation for future generations to come and gained from the knowledge Habitat has provided to me in not only financial education but homeowner education as well.”

Mayor Christiansen said the story of the Chisholms is what the magic of Christmas is all about.

“What a terrific Christmas present this must be,” he said, with a broad smile of his face.

While it might be hard to wrap, the Chisholm’s will certainly feel right at home with their Christmas gift this year.


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