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The Journey

“I just can’t believe it’s finally here.”

Those were the words of Tarika Brown Saturday, Feb. 8, as she stood in the bedroom of her new home at Wilson Russell Drive in Cumberland.

Brown attended countless hours of homebuyer education classes offered by Piedmont Habitat for Humanity before even filling out an application for the program. She was nervous at first about the idea of applying. The road ahead seemed long and strenuous.

However, she told herself that she would stick with the program, complete her classes and work to prepare herself to apply for a new home. After her application was accepted by Habitat, Brown said, she knew the journey had only just begun.

After a long search for an area to build the home upon, Brown bought a plot of land from her previous Cumberland County High School biology teacher. Brown put in hundreds of hours of sweat equity to help build a new home for herself and her family.

The community in Cumberland rallied around her, and everyone went above and beyond in order to see her dreams fulfilled. Numerous volunteers were on-site on any given day helping to construct the residence. Churches provided lunches and beverages nearly every weekend, fueling the helping hands that aided Brown in her journey.

Students at the local Cumberland County Public School even helped to build a shed and dig trenches at the new house. The school has even formed a new Habitat Club as a result.

After approximately seven long months of construction, the hard work had finally paid off that Saturday as Brown stood in her new bedroom. Moments before, she and her children had cut the ribbon at the dedication ceremony for their new home. The house was overflowing with familiar faces, including the church members, volunteers and family that helped Brown along the way. On the other side of her closed bedroom door, people were celebrating, mingling and enjoying slices of cake.

In the silent calm of her new bedroom, Brown was reflecting over the entire process — the journey.

Piedmont Habitat for Humanity helps to build and repair homes, but the organization goes much deeper than that. It works with families and individuals in sub-standard living conditions willing to partner and work alongside volunteers to build their new home.

Those willing to partner, like Brown, work with Habitat to attend homeowner education classes that cover topics such as budgeting, home maintenance, credit and how to be a good neighbor. Selected applicants put in 200-400 hours of sweat equity on their new house, and are able, through Habitat’s program, to pay an affordable mortgage on their new home.

The Saturday afternoon of the home dedication had been filled with laughter, tears of joy and endless smiles. The day was an emotionally-driven climax after months and months of hard work and dedication.

“I just want to thank everybody that participated in making this happen for me,” Brown said.

Photos by Alexa Massey