Restoring pride in neighborhoods: Habitat for Humanity hosts Cookies & Cocoa event

Jocelyn Bottomley, right, with the Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity gives Shantel Baynard a cup of cocoa during the Cocoa and Cookies event on New Street on Friday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Jocelyn Bottomley, right, with the Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity gives Shantel Baynard a cup of cocoa during the Cocoa and Cookies event on New Street on Friday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

DOVER — Jocelyn Bottomley and several others who work with Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity ReStore say the organization is much more than just boards and nails and building houses.

While constructing houses for families in need is certainly the primary goal for Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity, restoring pride in neighborhoods and bringing neighbors together are some of the other things that take place hand-in-hand with its projects.

Ms. Bottomley, operations manager for the CDHFH ReStore at 544 Webbs Lane in Dover, and around 10 of her co-workers took a couple of hours on Black Friday to host a Cookies & Cocoa event on North New Street.

“Basically, my intent with this was to just bring our team out and kind of be able to see full circle what Habitat is trying to do,” Ms. Bottomley said. “Secondly, it gives a chance for our homeowners to meet their neighbors.”

Bud and Sue Sattfield, who are building a house with Central Delaware Habitat at 20 North New Street, were on hand in front of their home on Friday and were excited to meet many of their future neighbors.

Chrissy Kyriss with Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity gives Myrtle Watkins a cup of cocoa and a box of cookies during the Cocoa and Cookies event on New Street on Friday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Chrissy Kyriss with Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity gives Myrtle Watkins a cup of cocoa and a box of cookies during the Cocoa and Cookies event on New Street on Friday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

The Sattfields currently live in a mobile home in Hartly and are hoping to move into their new house on North New Street by the end of the year.

“This is fantastic,” said Mr. Sattfield, who was in the Army from 1974 until ’81. “I’ve been doing a lot of work on [the house] myself to help them out. We’re both on disability, so it’s kind of hard sometimes to work around construction.

“But I’ve helped with the siding, putting all of the interior in … I can’t climb the ladders anymore but handed up all of the tresses. It’s been a great experience.”

Ms. Sattfield agreed with her husband.

“This is awesome,” she said. “Anything to get the community together is awesome.”

Frank Daniels, who is the treasurer and a member of the board of directors for CDHFH, looked around at all of the construction that’s taking place in the area and smiled.

Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity workers from left, Alexis Cunningham, Chrissy Kyriss, Will Speakman and Daniel Mcintire walk door to door during the Cocoa and Cookies event on New Street on Friday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity workers from left, Alexis Cunningham, Chrissy Kyriss, Will Speakman and Daniel Mcintire walk door to door during the Cocoa and Cookies event on New Street on Friday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

“This is fabulous. I love it,” Mr. Daniels said. “We wanted to get a couple of veterans in here and do these two veterans’ builds. We want to do more veterans builds in the future if we can find them.”

Through the CDHFH homeowner partnership, families are able to achieve their dreams of homeownership and break the cycle of poverty. Habitat makes housing affordable through partnerships with local businesses, materials either donated or purchased with donated funds and volunteer labor.

Habitat homeowners are required to contribute 250 volunteer hours to the construction of their home and in return get a 30-year interest-free mortgage.

While visitors to the Cookies & Cocoa event were scarce, the organizers elected to knock on a couple of doors and walk around the block, pouring hot chocolate and giving away cookies to anybody who was interested.

For Myrtle Watkins, who has lived on North New Street for 40 years, it is a sign that things are changing in her neighborhood.

After all, Habitat is building five new homes on North New Street this year alone and has partnered with nine homeowners over the past 24 months to add nine new homes to the downtown Dover area.

“I think it’s one of the best things that ever happened to this street,” Ms. Watkins said. “I feel very confident now and very much safe. It’s much safer than it has been.”

Central Delaware Habitat has been working feverishly to bring home ownership to families in downtown Dover in recent years.

Since CDHFH’s founding in 1990 until 2009, it served an average of one family a year. But it has ramped up its efforts in recent years and hopes to have eight homes completed by the end of this year alone.

“The one thing that I do not want to do is to come out here and do a little bit of work,” said Jonathan Gallo, executive director for the CDHFH. “I want to do a lot of work to make this a better place and make this a revitalized downtown Dover area.”

The homes that Habitat has built and rehabilitated are located throughout Kent County. So far there are 17 in Dover, six in Smyrna, three in Milford, two in Harrington and five in Frederica.

“It’s one house at a time,” Mr. Daniels said. “I think that’s the attitude that we’re taking and in the future, hopefully, we’ll be able to see a whole transformation in this neighborhood, which is good for the city of Dover and all of the good people that are here.

“The neighbors are appreciative and I think we’re going to make it safer for everyone which can only be better, especially for the children in the neighborhood. I think that’s important.”

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

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