A home for the holidays: Habitat for Humanity fulfills family dream in Frederica

Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Dan Simpson, right, along with Michelle Statts with her children and volunteers raise the wall of Statts new home in Frederica. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

FREDERICA — It doesn’t look like much right now, with just a concrete foundation and one wooden wall frame erected at 13 David St., in Frederica, but it is enough to contain the hopes and dreams of Michelle Statts and her children.

Ms. Statts became the latest dreamer to become involved in a home-building project with the Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity when the organization raised a wall signaling the start of construction last Thursday.

Now, Ms. Statts has at least 250 hours of sweat equity that she has to put into the construction of her five-bedroom home.

She’ll have to balance that with her job as a third-grade teacher in the Woodbridge School District, as well as watching over the seven children who will be moving into the new home with her.

Ms. Statts doesn’t anticipate the additional demands will pose too much of a problem as she was ready to grab a hammer and get started despite the frigid cold temperatures late last week.

Michelle Statts with her children, Ibbie, 16, Yahya, 10, Hawwa, 14, and Mubaraka, 8 during wall raising in Frederica. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

Ms. Statts said being able to partner with the Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity is a dream come true for her.

“I didn’t know that I would be able to partner with Habitat,” she said. “I wanted to for a long time, but they weren’t building here in Frederica and it was important for me to stay within the Lake Forest School District because that is where my kids attend school.

“So, I waited and waited … and they (CDHFH) were still building in Dover.”

Ms. Statts said before being accepted into the CDHFH program that she was house shopping with a realtor and the mortgages were always $1,000 a month or more for older homes that she figured would have higher utility costs.

One happy phone call

Finally, her phone rang. It was CDHFH with an offer that she couldn’t refuse.

“Habitat finally called and it was decided that they were going to build in Frederica right at the same time that they were building in Dover, and I was very happy,” said Ms. Statts.

“This will allow us to have a new home, hopefully with lower energy costs, and we’ll be closer to our friends and activities that we do, not only in the Lake Forest School District, but I work in the Woodbridge School District. One of the other third-grade teachers (at Woodbridge) lives right diagonally across the street from here.”

The most important thing to Ms. Statts was that her children would remain in the Lake Forest School District. That is where their friends are and where they have made a home.

Michelle Statts thanks everyone involved in helping her and her children to own a home during wall raising in Frederica. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

Those children include: Shumailah, 18; Ibrahim, 16; Hawwa, 14; Jaafar, 13; Nurrideen, 11; Yahya, 10 and Mubaraka, 8,

Hawwa Statts said she can’t wait for the day she will be able to move into her new home.

“I think it’s cool. (My mom’s) excited and I’m excited,” she said. “I’ll be sharing a room with my older sister in this house so that’s pretty cool.

“A bunch of my friends live in Frederica, so I’m happy to be able to hang out with them and then in the summer I’ll probably go on runs on the sidewalk and that’ll be cool.”

Ready for life in Frederica

The Statts family is currently living in Milford in Michelle’s mother’s house.

“It will be a life-changer to get back in the Lake Forest School District and closer to the activities that we do and stuff,” Ms. Statts said. “Since I live at my mom’s it’s kind of like being 14 again, but with kids.

“My new house will allow me to be the head of the household and make all of the decisions myself, plus we’ll have our own space. The location is a big thing that we’ll be closer to everything we do.”

At last Thursday’s wall-raising ceremony, Ms. Statts thanked the CDHFH and its volunteers for all of their hard work.

Building another dream

Dan Simpson, executive director of the CDHFH, is always quick to point out that his organization offers “a hand up, not a hand out.”

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

“This is going to be a five-bedroom home here in Frederica, Delaware,” Mr. Simpson said. “It will be the second of four houses that are planned for this year in Frederica. We will have 16 (overall) homes built in Frederica by the close of 2018.

“This is a great example of how a lot of love can come together with a lot of help from a great team of volunteers.”

Ms. Statt’s new home actually got off to a head start as Yencer Builders framed the interior and exterior walls of the house in their office parking lot.

As is the case with many of CDHFH events, Rev. R.J. Chandler Sr., who also serves as a volunteer for Habitat, was on hand last Thursday to offer a prayer of dedication to the Statts’ family home.

“God, as we raise the wall, let us be mindful that we’re raising a wall of hope, we’re raising a wall of love, we’re raising a wall of peace,” Rev. Chandler said. “We are our brother’s keeper and we ask that you will continue to keep us as we keep one another.”

Almost as quickly as the word “Amen” was said, Ms. Statts was looking for a hammer.

“I want to jump right in,” she said. “Let’s get it done. That’s how I feel. This is really exciting. I want to thank everybody involved from the bottom of my heart.”

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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