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Not every new home comes with a six-piece bluegrass band. But that was the case as Hanover Habitat for Humanity dedicated its newest project Jan. 31.
In a unique partnership between Va. Repertory Theatre and Habitat, the crowd gathered to congratulate Megan Toomey and her son, Mason, on their new home was first able to stomp their feet to “Cotton Patch Gospel,” the current production running at Hanover Tavern.
When introducing the musicians, Susan Davenport, director of communications for Va. Repertory Theatre, said there was a clear link between last Thursday’s dedication and the musical performance. “Cotton Patch Gospel” is a musical adaptation of the gospels of Matthew and John, originally written by Clarence Jordan, who helped found Habitat for Humanity.
The evening’s festivities capped off the contributions of 150 volunteers that helped build the Toomeys’ home.
“We had 150 people show up. That’s 300 hands and 300 hands left, which is great,” said Garrett Augustine, construction supervisor for HHFH. “We’ve got a good record with hands as far as that goes.”
Megan Toomey, who works for a local dentist, was previously renting a home in Ashland with her son Mason. On Earth Day, she had taken her son to a T-shirt dyeing event at Bass Pro Shops when she was approached by a representative from Habitat who asked whether she owned or rented. The rest is history.
“I was thinking about what I wanted to say last night and who I wanted to thank and all I could think of was: ‘Megan, this isn’t the Grammy’s,’” she said. “But it kind of feels like a Grammy to me though, because it’s such a big gift.”
The gifts continued the night of the home dedication as Toomey was presented with a variety of kitchen appliances, a new grill, basic home goods and a lively pink orchid.
“Everyone who helped … has given me so much more than just a beautiful home,” she added. “It’s a sense of pride and confidence in things that I’ve lost touch with along the way and now I have back.”
Toomey has plenty of company in Hanover. According to John Suddarth, Habitat board president, the local chapter is building more houses than ever before.
“This year our goal was to build six houses and so far we’ve been dedicating a new home with a new partner family every two months, so things are looking on track to meet our objectives,” Suddarth said.
Tim Bowring, executive director, said each home he sees built makes him further believe in miracles.
“When I came here five years ago, I didn’t really believe in miracles to tell you the truth. Now I do,” Bowring said. “Those miracles happen every time one of these houses gets built and they are based on the very basic principle of ‘love thy neighbor as you would yourself.”
Bowring further praised the community support Habitat has received.
“Think about it. You’ve got someone who’s having a difficult time getting into a home and an entire community comes together and makes that happen. That’s miraculous and it’s a wonderful, wonderful thing to be a part of,” he said.
On a global scale, Habitat For Humanity, a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing ministry, has helped to build or repair over 600,000 homes. In addition to a down payment and monthly mortgage payments, homeowners invest their own labor into building their Habitat house and the houses of others. Habitat houses are sold to partner families at no profit and financed with affordable loans.
The homeowners’ monthly mortgage payments are used to build still more Habitat houses.
In addition to a volunteer labor pool, the local affiliate is able to build homes with little overhead due to its Mechanicsville-based ReStore, a donation-based retail store whose profits go directly to local Habitat projects.
For more information on HHFH, visit www.hanoverhfh.org.
View multimedia coverage of the Habitat dedication here.