After a hiatus due to the pandemic, volunteers from the Alabama Power Service Organization (APSO) Magic City Chapter are back in the community strong and ready to start working on their 25e Habitat for Humanity House.
The 10-day home build in Pleasant Grove is the chapter’s first Habitat project since 2018, said Anna Chandler, president of Magic City APSO and accountant for the Southern Company. The project is scheduled to begin on October 24 and culminate with the inauguration of the house on November 4.
“We’re all excited to be back to volunteer in person,” Chandler said. “We’ve spent the past few years doing projects virtually, but now we’re back to doing them face-to-face and seeing the people we help. I think it makes a big difference when you can see the impact you are having.
Alabama Power volunteers ready to build a Habitat home in Pleasant Grove from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.
Magic City APSO has partnered with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Birmingham to build homes for families since 1998. Habitat Birmingham builds and repairs homes in partnership with low to middle income families, with the aim of helping to provide affordable housing and responding to disaster recovery. needs in Jefferson, Shelby, St. Clair and Walker counties.
“The pandemic has presented unprecedented challenges, some of which have had a lasting impact, such as a substantial increase in building material costs, but we are operating at full capacity,” said Charles Moore, President and CEO of Habitat for Humanity Greater Birmingham. “Affordable housing is in high demand and Habitat Birmingham is fortunate to continue producing homes and thankfully volunteers are back on building sites. Alabama Power Service Organization’s 24-year partnership is a privilege and is appreciated. It’s organizations like APSO that help us pursue our mission of providing affordable housing options that benefit the entire community.
The new owner is Desinee Lawson, a single mother with two children – Elijah, 9, and Emoree, 3. Hailing from Birmingham, Lawson works in customer service for the Social Security Administration. She said she enjoys spending time with her children and helping them “learn, color, sing and dance”.
Lawson will work alongside volunteers to help build his home. She is grateful to APSO and Habitat Birmingham for paving the way for her to own her first home.
“Thank you so much for all you do for people trying to make their lives better,” Lawson said. “I can’t wait for the kids to have their own bedroom and give them a solid foundation to grow into successful adults.”
Habitat for Humanity brings home ownership to families who otherwise cannot afford a home. Qualifying families are required to pay off an interest-free mortgage, complete 300 hours of “sweat equity” on their home or another Habitat home, and complete 20 hours of homeownership education workshops.
“While Habitat’s program is not free, it offers a fantastic opportunity for those who dream of home ownership but cannot qualify for conventional home loans,” Moore said.
Lawson’s three-bedroom, two-bathroom home will be built to meet energy-efficiency standards, with Energy Star-rated windows, insulation and appliances.
Families have the opportunity to take ownership of their homes, Moore said; Lawson chose the neighborhood where she wants to live, as well as the plan of the house, paint colors, countertops and flooring.
Since its founding 35 years ago, Habitat Birmingham has built 766 homes and repaired or renovated nearly 1,480 homes in its four county service area.
Habitat Birmingham is one of 1,200 US affiliates of Habitat for Humanity International, a nonprofit founded by Alabama natives Millard and Linda Fuller based on their Christian values. One of Habitat’s core principles is that people value the things they earn more than the things they are given. So Habitat for Humanity is an “opportunity, not a giveaway program,” Moore said.
Chandler, who coordinates the APSO project, said she looked forward to working on the house with the Lawson family.
“We are all very blessed. Having the opportunity to give back to others means a lot to me,” Chandler said. “I’ve never worked on a Habitat home before, and I’m very excited to be a part of it.”