Volunteers help at a Habitat for Humanity home

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Habitat Homebuyer Grateful to Move into New Home for the Holidays

Habitat for Humanity Peninsula and Greater Williamsburg dedicated another house in the Forest Heights neighborhood of Williamsburg to a family grateful to be home for the holidays.

“This home means a lot to myself and my family,” said Sonya, standing alongside her toddler with her teenage twins behind her at the dedication ceremony on Nov. 15, 2021. “We can have stability. My kids will always have a home. When they move on, they will have somewhere to come back to. We can’t wait to be in our new home together.”

The home is the eighth completed home built by Habitat in the subdivision off Richmond Road with more in the works.

Henderson, Inc. donated building materials and a construction crew to build the three-bedroom house, as well as supported the build with volunteers. Sonya and her children fulfilled many of their mandatory sweat equity hours — volunteer time that homebuyers agree to in order to qualify for the Habitat Homebuyer Program — by working on the foundation of the house.

Brian Schultz, Director of Building Operations for the Williamsburg general contracting and construction firm, sliced the blue ribbon stretched across the porch and presented the ceremonial key to the mother of five.

“Thank you!” Sonya’s twins, Shaunte and Shaunell, chimed in unison to the crowd, which included James City County officials James Purse, Assistant County Administrator and Vaughn Poller, Neighborhood Development Administrator; Habitat Board member Curtis Lassiter, Jr.; volunteers from Habitat’s ReStore in Williamsburg; and Sonya’s new surrounding neighbors.

Sonya works as an Executive Housekeeper at a nearby Williamsburg hotel, and in addition to her children in attendance, has a daughter studying nursing at Radford University and a son bound for the University of North Carolina in the spring. The native of Charles City, Virginia, applied to the Habitat Homebuyer Program three times before she was accepted. That didn’t discourage her, as she noted, in hindsight, that she wasn’t ready for the responsibility of home ownership previously.

“Now I am ready to do this and know I can make my mortgage payments on time,” she said.

Janet V. Green, CEO of Habitat for Humanity Peninsula and Greater Williamsburg, said many mistake that the nonprofit gives away homes, but that is never the case.

“We partner with families,” she said. “Habitat works with families like Sonya’s that have long term employment, good credit and have performed hundreds of hours of sweat equity helping to build their home and their neighbors’ homes.”

Sonya’s mortgage payments will put money back into Habitat so more homes can be built for qualified families like hers. In addition to Henderson’s support, Habitat collaborated with James City County to continue to develop affordable housing in Forest Heights.

“On behalf of the James City County Board of Supervisors, we want to welcome you as new homeowners,” Purse said. “We’re happy that you can share in that slice of James City County. It’s really important to have a community, whether it’s a neighborhood, a church or all the wonderful people that made this happen today.”

Schultz accepted a plaque from Green commemorating Henderson’s ongoing relationship with Habitat. Henderson also built Habitat homes in 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2017, all in Williamsburg.

“We always love to get involved when we are called upon and asked to partake,” Schultz said. “Continued community involvement is where it’s at.”

Schultz paired with Sonya for morning ribbon cutting before the ceremony came to a close with the family welcoming visitors inside for the first time.

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We help as many families as we can, but the lack of decent and affordable housing remains a critical problem in our area. By donating, you will provide upfront funding for building materials and services that makes interest-free loans to Habitat partner families possible. Habitat partner families help to build their own homes - alongside volunteers - and pay an affordable mortgage. Your monetary donations enable us to continue building strength, stability and independence for future local families.