In the frame: Habitat makes dream come true

DOVER — Rosa Castillo’s body language was easy to understand.
She exuded pure joy with tears and smiles, high praise, laughter and gratitude.

Just a few feet away on a sunny, mild Thursday afternoon, diligent Chesapeake Utilities employees teamed up to frame Ms. Castillo’s home to be.

Through Habitat for Humanity’s low-cost mortgage program, Mrs. Castillo, her husband and son are set to move in early February if the wintry weather cooperates.

“Every time I hear a hammer pound I thank God for so many people with wonderful hearts,” she said in Spanish through a translator.
“I’m very emotional and super happy because my dream of having a house of my own is coming true right before me.”
Ms. Castillo’s family enjoyed the “Framing Frenzy” segment of the construction process. The frame was hauled away later in the day for more work.

Chesapeake Utilities partnered with Habitat for Humanity and approximately 45 employees spent a combined five hours doing volunteer work.
“It’s an unbelievable opportunity to help provide a home for someone needing an assist and it’s a great team building experience for us as well,” said Chesapeake Field Collector Steve Brennan when taking a quick break.

“If someone picks up a stud someone else grabs the other end. When I saw this pop up on the calendar I couldn’t wait to sign up and would do it again in a heartbeat.”

Said Chesapeake projects coordinator Sarah Hardy, a financial regulatory specialist, ”We have great employees here and whenever they’re presented with opportunities to give something back to the community they’re eager to pitch in and find it quite fulfilling.”

Several Polytech High students joined the action, including senior Dustin Wyatt and junior Jonathan Daniels. They rode a bus north from Woodside apprehensively and returned to school satisfied with their contributions.
“I thought we’d kind of stand off to the side, sit and watch but actually it was straight to work,” Daniels said. “I loved it, I would do it again.”
Added Wyatt, “There was no awkward stage of meeting people we didn’t know. They came up, welcomed us and made us feel like we were part of it all.

“It was definitely a great experience.
In 2018 and 2019 Habitat completed 25 homes, including seven currently in the final stages.
Eventually the 1,480 square foot, four-bedroom ranch style home will occupy a lot at 325 N. New Street. The home has an appraised value of $150,000, which will require a monthly payment of $400 to $600.

While she can’t wait to furnish her new home, landscape and garden, Mrs. Castillo laughed and said she had “a lot of plans and not a lot of money.”
Mrs. Castillo’s family will be required to provide “Sweat Equity,” of 250 hours of Habitat-connected volunteer work, along with taking financial literacy classes to better assure future success.

“Our mission is to help provide opportunity for hard working, high moraled people with the only thing that’s standing between them and home ownership is a low income,” Habitat for Humanity Central Delaware Executive Director Tim Bailey said.

The project took place at the back of Chesapeake’s facility and near the future site of its planned “Safety Town” designed as a training facility with classrooms, structures and equipment designed to mirror real work conditions and emergency preparedness situations.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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