(PHOTO: Amelia Holder, chairperson of Itawamba's Habitat for Humanity selection committee, presents Hattie Colburn, Habitat's newest homeowner, with a family Bible at Sunday's dedication. – Photo by Alisha Holder Wilson)
By ALISHA HOLDER WILSON
Hattie Colburn, an 82-year-old Fulton resident, is the new owner of the third house constructed by Itawamba's Habitat for Humanity.
The Habitat house was officially dedicated to Colburn last Sunday.
“You would never find a sweeter person than Ms. Hattie,” said Amelia Holder, now chairperson of the Habitat selection committee. “The place they were living was so inadequate. Because of her disability, she could only go into the bedroom and kitchen. I thought it was very important to get her in a more comfortable, suitable place. And she wanted it so badly,” Holder said.
Colburn's new house is a three bedroom home with vinyl siding. She lives with her daughter, Nancy Harris, who is also her caregiver.
“It's such a rewarding thing to know you're doing something for someone in your community,” Holder said.
This year was a special one for Habitat as Hickory Hill Inc. served as a corporate sponsor and raised the $10,000 needed to get the project under way.
“With the support of our employees and bosses, we were able to raise the money through fundraisers inside and outside of the plant over a four or five month timeframe,” said Dedria Wilson, representative with Hickory Hill.
This was Hickory Hill's first time to help with Habitat, but it's not the first significant financial contribution they have made to the community. The company, employing approximately 230 people, also raised $10,000 for this year's Relay for Life.
“We have a continual improvement team inside the plant who gets projects started. Everyone here is very supportive of anything we do. It takes a lot of volunteer time outside the plant, but people are always willing to help,” Wilson said.
“Hickory Hill was super in helping us. I wish we could get more sponsors like them,” said Habitat president Donnie Garrison.
According to Holder, the selection committee has a meeting once a year to tell people about Habitat and pass out applications.
The financial qualifications are such that an applicant can't make too much or they won't qualify but they can't make too little or they couldn't make the payments.
“It has to be someone who's willing to help themselves. We don't hand them the keys free. It's just providing them a home at a small, interest free payment,” Holder said.
The committee tries to look at whose need is the greatest for adequate housing. They then have to verify that person's ability to partner with Habitat. They have to interview the family and go into their home.
Qualified participants are required to put in 500 sweat equity hours, where they work on their house or another Habitat project. The family is monitored each month until the house is paid off, according to Garrison.
The next Habitat house will be located in Mantachie. The family has already been chosen and the dirtwork is in its preliminary stages.
The Itawamba County Habitat for Humanity chapter was founded in 1994 as a Leadership Itawamba project.