Habitat builds three more houses in Dover

DOVER — There’s not many things that are bigger than unwrapping a new place to call home during the holiday season.

Breanna Thompson and her three young children got to experience just that last Friday. That’s when she was handed the keys to her new house by Jon Gallo, executive director of the Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity.

Ms. Thompson was all smiles after walking into the front door of her sparkling new dark gray, two-story home at 20 S. Kirkwood Street.

“Santa’s been quite good to me before, but not quite on this magnitude. This means a lot to my family,” Ms. Thompson said. “It means we’re going to have a generation of children that can enjoy a backyard and a place to sleep where they have space to enjoy. I’m just overwhelmed that I’ll get to see them grow in this home.”

Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Jon Gallo hands Breanna Thompson the key to her new home on Kirkwood Street in Dover on Friday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Zaire, Jayanna and Jaimir — Ms. Thompson’s children — were busy scurrying around and inspecting their new living space.

Members of Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity still have some more celebrating to do.

They will dedicate another home for the Webster family at 27 N. New Street on Wednesday at 4 p.m. and will unveil another for the Bowman family at 41 S. Queen Street on Jan. 12.

For Mr. Gallo, who announced that he will soon be leaving his post with CDHFH for another opportunity, these are the moments that he and his volunteers live for.

“It’s actually a wonderful thing because with all of the work we’ve done on this house, to be able to present it at this time of the year in time for the holidays and all that, it’s a wonderful thing for this family,” he said. “They were living in a little apartment and now they’re going to get to enjoy the magic of home ownership.”

Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen was on hand at Ms. Thompson’s house dedication and helped to give it some Christmas context.

“Some 2,000 years ago there was a family that was looking for a place to stay and they found no room at the inn and they ended up in a stable,” Mr. Christiansen said. “There were no people to help them and to look out for them and they were far away.

“Now (the Thompsons), you’ve come home, and this story ends up just like that story – on a high note.”

For CDHFH, this is definitely the most wonderful time of the year.

“I have transitioned from Habitat for Humanity to go into some other business, but I also wanted to make sure that I see through these builds that I had started and have been a part of and to see these families successfully transition into these homes,” Mr. Gallo said.

“One of the great things about this house is this is the fifth house of a large project that we have been a part of. Now that this fifth house is complete, that puts us at closure for that first large project grant, so that’s very exciting.”

Achieving goals

Ms. Thompson said that she didn’t think she would ever get the opportunity to own her very own house. She had been living in a small apartment with her children.

She had her doubts, but she managed to overcome all of the obstacles that were in her way.

“As a young mother, I never thought that financially, or mentally, physically or emotionally, I would be able to handle being a homeowner,” Ms. Thompson said. “I still go back to the day that I walked into Jon (Gallo’s) office and I said, ‘You know what? I’m going to try this.’

“Out of that came this beautiful blessing and I’m so grateful and happy that my children will be able to tell these stories of how they saw me out here helping lay the foundation for the house that we know are going to live in.”

Ms. Thompson, as well as the other two families who are about to move into new homes, had to successfully complete the required 250 “sweat equity” hours toward their new homes.

One-hundred of those required hours were completed on the build site working side-by-side with volunteers while others were completed in financial literacy courses, volunteering in the CDHFH ReStore and at local community events.

Revitalizing downtown Dover

Rev. R.J. Chandler Sr., who serves as a volunteer for Habitat, helped to dedicate Ms. Thompson’s new home with a prayer and thanked everybody who volunteered and pitched in.

He also tipped his hat to the city’s leaders.

“This is a city that he has been able to provide such great leadership,” Rev. Chandler said. “Mayor (Robin) Christiansen has had the vision to revitalize the city of Dover. This is one of many houses that have been able to have been erected because of visionary leadership.

“With the partnership of the city of Dover and Habitat for Humanity, downtown Dover has been able to revitalize itself.”

CDHFH has now partnered with 52 families to help create affordable home ownership and put families and individuals into homes.

Mr. Gallo proudly points out that not only does the organization still hold a zero percent interest rate on mortgages for its homeowners, but has a zero percent foreclosure rate as well.

“As you can see, we continue to help clean up the downtown Dover area and rebuild these beautiful houses and bring in these beautiful families,” Mr. Gallo said. “Hopefully, they will all be a part of this and help the mayor and help the city with what their vision is for the future of downtown Dover.”

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