The Denver Post (Colorado)
By: Joey Bunch
October 11, 2010
Sherita Brown dragged her slender fingers lightly along the white wall of her new home, as she led a procession of family members through for the first time Sunday afternoon.
"This is so exciting," she said outside as her family and eight others cut red ribbons from the doors of their Habitat for Humanity homes near Interstate 25 and South Colorado Boulevard.
The 24 residences in the Bails Townhome Community will provide new digs for more than 100 people - the largest project in Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver's 31-year history.
Brown's first home was a milestone for her, a single mother in her 40s caring for a teenage son and a 5-year-old grandson.
Her proud family lingered in her kitchen and told how she decided to leave her longtime job at a grocery store to become a medical assistant and now plans to become a nurse.
She has worked hard to be a homeowner as well. Since January, Brown showed up four days a week to paint walls, drive nails and take orders from construction supervisors. She helped to build, literally, the roof over her head.
"I was scared," she said of the trip up the ladder. "They had to hold my hand the first time, but I did it."
Future residents worked side by side with volunteers of different races, ages and faiths.
Heather Lafferty, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver, said the new residents cut across demographics. Collectively, they've lived in 13 countries, though some have lived in the metro region their whole lives.
They are moderate or low-income earners, with jobs such as taxi drivers and restaurant workers - "people who are the essence of our economy," she said.
Habitat to date has helped provide more than 400 homes to about 1,700 metro residents, but the demand has spiked; the chapter hopes to build another 200 in the next five years, Lafferty said.
Though residents pay mortgages, calibrated to their incomes, the program is possible only through private donations and government aid. In return, homeownership builds people, as well as communities, said LeRoy Brown, regional director of community planning and development for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
"It's the American dream," he said. "But for projects like this, but for organizations like Habitat for Humanity, but for the work of all the volunteers, many people would never have the opportunity."
Joey Bunch: 303-954-1174 or firstname.lastname@example.org