Central Delaware Habitat starts toward its goal of building a record 14 homes this year


Monty Sturgis (middle) raises the wall on the front of his house, which he is building with Central Delaware Habita for Humanity on North Kirkwood Street, at a ceremony on Monday afternoon. (Delaware State News/Mike Finney)

DOVER — It was fitting that in what the Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity expects to be its busiest year thus far got kicked off with two wall-raising ceremonies at the same time on Monday.

The future homes of Rachel Smith and Monty Sturgis, located at 23 and 29 N. Kirkwood Street, began to take form as the front wall was raised on both families’ homes along with the help of Dover Mayor Robin R. Christiansen and other dignitaries and friends.

“This is a neat day,” said Dan Simpson, executive director for Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity (CDHFH). “These two homes here at 23 North Kirkwood and 29 North Kirkwood Street are the first two official build-starts for the year 2018 for Habitat. These houses (foundations) were prepared in one week for this event.

“We don’t often take the time to brag like we should about the regular volunteers that we have that help us and I want to make a point about it (Monday), because literally one week ago we had a small window around the crazy weather to make this happen. Everyone came together under the guidance of Harvey (Carrow), our construction manager.”

Busy, busy, busy — it appears to be the biggest theme for 2018 for CDHFH, which with the help of its’ volunteers, sponsors and donors, is continuing work in Kent County to create affordable homeownership opportunities.

After all, the organization is scheduled to build more than a dozen homes this year, including 10 within downtown Dover and four in Frederica.

Rachel Smith stands with her daughters Honesty (left) and Cataleya at the front of their new home she is building with Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity on North Kirkwood Street on Monday. (Delaware State News/Mike Finney)

Over the past 25 years, CDHFH and its army of volunteers has built and/or renovated 40 homes and provided housing solutions for more than 170 adults and children.

Ms. Smith and Mr. Sturgis’ homes will be the 23rd and 24th new houses completed by Habitat in downtown Dover. They will be the second and third homes built by the CDHFH on the North Kirkwood block within a 12-month span.

“Both of these houses are going to be three-bedroom homes and I think they’re virtually identical in terms of their square footage and the layout,” Mr. Simpson said. “They’re approximately 1,500-square-feet with one-and-a-half bathrooms, three bedrooms and a single-car garage alongside that will attach at the street. Obviously, they’ll look different from the outside.

“They’re being built with love and kindness and with the support of the community for the Smith and the Sturgis families.”

Dr. Rev. R.J. Chandler Sr. got Monday’s ceremony underway with a prayer.

“We give thanks because we’re here to celebrate two more houses that are underway – getting ready to be built up from the ground up,” he said. “We thank you, Lord, for all of our volunteers, we thank you for the Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity and we also thank you for these families that will be moving into these homes.

“May (the houses) be a place of safety and refuge for them.”

Mr. Sturgis said he is excited to begin construction on his new home, which he will share with his 8-year-old son, Karver.

“Words can’t come close to how I really feel in the inside of my heart right now,” said Mr. Sturgis. “When I look back, I gave my life back to God, and ever since I’ve been back, the blessings have fell into my arms.

“I had to stay on the path and show my son that this is the right way to do it, that even when you’re up against adversity you can still make something out of yourself and you can always grow.”

He added, “I thank each and every one of you in my life on this endeavor to become a better person, a better father, a better cook, a better man, a better Delawarean, and just a better person of the human race.”

Rachel Smith is set to get to work on her new home that she will share with daughters Honesty (7), Cataleya (6) and Adaya (3-months-old).

“I’m overwhelmed with feelings right now about my home,” Ms. Smith said. “I’m a single mom with three girls and this is going to be our beginning.

“I have a great grandmother who has been there for me all of my life and I look at this as the start of my family of building, as my kids grow up and they have kids, I’ll be the new grandmom and I will be here for them and they can always come here.”

Nothing could have wiped the smile off Honesty Smith’s face on Monday afternoon.

“I’m really excited and I really think my mom is going to be happy here,” she said. “I really think our whole family is going to be happy here.”

Mr. Simpson continued to stress the importance of his diligent staff of volunteers and the work that they do.

“I want to say, ‘Thank you,’ to our volunteers because it’s that kind of effort that we see all the time and you can take it for granted if you’re not careful,” he said. “We are not taking that kind of effort for granted at all and we thank God for them and for what they did to make this day happen.”

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