Building Homes, Communities, and Hope

   Being a homeowner is something many only dream about. Habitat for Humanity of Walton County makes home ownership possible for families struggling to live with earnings well below the median income of the area. Serving all of Walton County, from the farms and timber lands down to the white beaches and coastal dunes, a unique blend of lifestyles makes up one of the fastest growing counties in the country. With volunteers, donations, and support, Habitat for Humanity gives families a chance to finally have a place to call their own. 

Walton County Habitat For Humanity has been a partnering charity with the Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation since the summer of 2011.  Since then, DCWAF has presented $314,000 towards their mission of building homes, communities, and hope.  Just last year, Habitat received $150,000 from Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation this past year, allowing them to renovate 5 blighted homes in Walton country, along with 2 brand new construction projects. This triples the number of families served this year from previous years. 

“Thanks in large part to Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation, Habitat for Humanity will be able to leverage this donation so that we may give 7 families the gift of affordable housing”- says Executive Director Teresa Imdieke. “We anticpate adding 12 children to our Habitat homes this year, along with 71 that have lived under Habitat roofs”.

On Saturday March 7th,  the Walton County Habitat For Humanity invited the community to tour the 5 new Habitat homes in Walton County as they dedicated their 35th home in Defuniak Springs. After 3500 volunteer hours, monetary support, and partnerships, the homes were finished and the families were able to move in. The wood used to help build these particular homes was the very same wood used to build the Destin Charity Wine Auction floor last April. The Auction takes place in a 22,592 square foot tent constructed in Grand Boulevard each year, and Rex Lumber donates all of the materials needed to build the floor with the intention that when the auction weekend is over, the floor is apart and used to build a Habitat Home.

With more Habitat homes currently in progress, the future homeowner of the 36th home attended the Dedication Ceremony with her young son. She currently makes the 30 mile commute to her job in Santa Rosa Beach, as many residents in the Walton County Communities travel for work.  In DeFuniak Springs, agriculture is the main industry. The median household income is $24,516 and 18.4% of the population lives below the poverty line. Most Freeport residents commute to Eglin Air Force Base or in coastal South Walton for work. The median household income in Freeport is $25,735 and 21.4% of the population lives below the poverty line. Paxton, right on the Alabama border, is primarily a farming and retirement community of just 750 residents with a median income of $24,625 and 12.3% living below poverty.

Habitat’s vision is a world where everyone has a decent place to live. The homes are not “given away”. Homeowners contribute hours of their own labor and help build their own house as well as other Habitat homes. They attend home ownership classes and become involved in the community. They are fully invested in the process.  More than building homes, Habitat builds the opportunity for families to help themselves, to break the cycle of poverty and to build long-term financial security. This opportunity is a new lease on life for those in need.

Published on Thursday, March 19, 2015