A s raindrops pelted the roof of Carolyn Madlock’s new home last Friday, inside, teardrops were falling to the flooring.
It was a bittersweet day for Madlock, whose father had died only days before she became the recipient of the 597th home built by Habitat for Humanity Mississippi Capital Area.
“I appreciate everyone’s help and prayers after the loss of my father,” she said as emotion filled her voice and eyes during the dedication ceremony. “I just want to say thank you. Believe me, these are happy tears, but I couldn’t have done it without him. We did get to drive by and let him see the house a few days ago.”
Madlock’s father was 68 and died of lung cancer the week before the Friday dedication. On Saturday, she was to attend his funeral. Monday, she was to sign closing papers on the house in the Virden Addition area of Jackson. Carolyn, her fiance and two children will occupy the home.
Carolyn, 37, was still living in a crowded home with her parents when she turned to Habitat for help. She has worked for St. Dominic’s since she was 17, and is now a cafeteria food service supervisor.
“The process really didn’t take that long,” she said. “I applied on April 5 and was approved on May 22. They started construction on Oct. 18.”
The three-bedroom, one-bath, 980-square-foot house home was built in nine weeks with the help of Catholic Build, which has helped construct 29 homes in the 29 years Habitat has existed in the Jackson area. Catholic Build is a group of Catholic parishes and St. Dominic Health Services foundation. The parishes are St. Francis of Assisi, St. Peter the Apostle, St. Joseph, St. Paul, St. Richard, Holy Family, Holy Savior, St. Mary, St. Therese and Christ the King. About 180 volunteers worked on the Madlock home.
“This is encouraging,” said Most. Rev. Joseph R. Kopacz, bishop of Catholic Diocese of Jackson. “The pastors have been steady about doing this over the years, and we’ve expanded it to include some parishes like Flowood, Clinton and Gluckstadt, which gives us extra participation on the monetary and build side.
“I understand we used to build two houses a year, but cost of building a house has gone up from $25,000 to $30,000 to about $80,000. Contributions don’t go up this quickly.
“It’s always good when the church gets involved in the community, but this is unique,” he said. “I’ve only been here since February, but I learned early that the bishop’s participation can make a big difference and it did. It had slumped a little bit, naturally, year to year, but they have to keep igniting it, and the parishes responded beautifully. They said it generated more actual income and donations than ever before. So this was great.”
As part of the process, Madlock had to contribute 250 hours of “sweat equity,” where she and/or family members worked the on the construction of her home or another Habitat project. She also is responsible for a mortgage and taxes on the project.
“We have to say over and over that the homeowner has responsibilities,” said Cindy Griffin, executive director of the Jackson-area Habitiat. “People still think it’s a giveaway, but the homeowner still has to pay taxes and homestead.”
So what’s on the horizon for Habitat?
“We’ll continue to work in the Virden Addition, and we’ll be doing some planning and will have another big project, which we’ll make public later next year,” said Griffin. “This year has been challenging. Sometimes it feels like we’re just now getting hit by the recession. We had eight new builds in 2014, but housed about 30 families by doing some rehabs, which are a more economical way to get families into housing quickly.
“But I think new construction will be picking up in 2015.”
For the Madlock family, a new home means moving in the week of Christmas. “I’ll be spending a lot of time between my parents house and this house,” said Carolyn. “I might have to put a tree in that front window.”
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