WILKES-BARRE — Nyree Williams was determined to own a new home for her and her family, so she gladly helped dig the foundation, spackle the dry wall and clean up daily to make her dream come true.
Williams, 39, devoted about 300-plus volunteer hours helping Wyoming Valley Habitat for Humanity construct the home at 124 Madison St.
On Thursday, Williams signed the official papers, accepted the keys to the front door and walked out of the Terrana Law Firm smiling and anticipating moving into the four-bedroom, 1,300-square-foot house, priced at $65,000.
“I’m very excited and I feel tremendously blessed today,” Williams said at the closing. “It was a lot of hard work, but I would do it all again. I’m feeling a great sense of pride today.”
Williams, who works as a nursing aide at Little Flower Manor, began moving her things into the home where she will reside with her three children — Dezzirae Middlebrooks, 19, Destiny Middlebrooks, 16, and Tyreem Williams, 14, and Destiny’s son, Laron, 16 months.
Karen Kaufer, executive director at Habitat for Humanity, said this is the 17th mortgage for the non-profit organization. He said a new project has started on Carey Avenue and another will start soon on Green Street in Edwardsville.
Kaufer said Williams will have a 20-year mortgage at zero-percent interest. She said every family selected for a Habitat home must invest 300 hours of “sweat equity” into the project.
Williams said she did at least 300 hours and still worked her 40-hour work week at Little Flower.
“We try to give people a hand up, not a hand out,” Kaufer said. “We try to improve the community one house at a time. This program offers people the opportunity to grow in a stable home. We find that kids do better in school. This is not a free house.”
Kaufer said about 500 volunteers worked on the house on Saturdays. She said Williams not only gets a new home, but the volunteers also learn new skills that help in future projects.
Williams said she enjoyed working alongside the volunteers, especially since they were working on her home.
“We were there every Saturday for a year,” she said. “It was amazing to see how many people wanted to help.”
Kaufer said Habitat families are selected based on the level of need, willingness to become partners in the Habitat program and the ability to re-pay the mortgage.
“By keeping labor costs down, Habitat is able to the selling price down,” Kaufer said. “Our mission is to build simple, decent homes to sell to families in need.”
Kaufer said the organization presented its Golden Hammer Award to Wells Fargo Bank for its support of the program through both financial donations and volunteer hours. Habitat gets its funding through fundraising events, grant writing, proceeds from its ReStore in Nanticoke, and mortgage payments from clients, she said.
Kaufer said applicants must be living in substandard housing — meaning conditions are unsafe, unsanitary or overcrowded.
“Owning a home creates a sense of pride and for many families, it’s a dream come true,” Kaufer said.
Williams agrees, saying she was going to start moving in Thursday afternoon.
“I hope we can all be living there by Sunday night,” she said.