Habitat build begins in Atmore

Published 4:00 am Saturday, May 22, 2010

There were a lot of unknowns when Escambia County Habitat for Humanity decided to stretch its tape measure from Brewton to Atmore while planning its 17th home build just over a year ago.

The worries quickly dissipated for executive director Alecia Glaize and volunteers for the non-profit Christian organization as support for the inaugural Atmore area build grew quickly with numerous sponsors pledging funds and volunteers stepping up to swing a hammer.

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Friday, months of planning became a reality as work on Jennifer Dorriety and her daughter, Kaylee’s, home began with floor joists and walls being installed as a skeleton of the structure quickly became evident.

“It’s amazing to think that expanding countywide and to be working out here was literally a dream just over a year ago,” Glaize said Friday morning at the construction site on Johnson Road in the Nokomis community. “There were some that thought it wouldn’t work, that Brewton and Atmore were too spread apart. There were a lot of obstacles to overcome, and we’ve overcome them.”

Prior to a ribbon cutting celebration sponsored by the Atmore Area Chamber of Commerce, Glaize addressed the volunteers thanking them for helping make the first Atmore build a success.

“I feel that we will be able to serve so many more people this way,” she said. “The support from the people in Atmore, from the chamber, the mayor, the Leadership Class of 2010, the businesses and civic organizations has all been a blessing. When we decided to expand, we didn’t want to do any less in Brewton, we’ve been building one house in Brewton a year for the past 12 years, so to be able to expand and build in Atmore while still building in Brewton has taken a lot of commitment from Atmore with financial support and volunteers and it has all been there.”

Jim Reese, pastor of First United Methodist Church of Atmore, then led the group in prayer asking for the “safety and well being” of the volunteers during the duration of the construction and cited Psalms 34:1 “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.”

Dorriety was introduced to the volunteers and offered a tearful thank you.

“I want to thank each and everyone of you and the sponsors,” she said as she wiped away tears. “I thank God for this, it’s just a blessing. It’s so overwhelming.”

Construction coordinator Rusty Miller also expressed his appreciation for their help. “We are going to make all these sticks into a home, not a house,” he said while propped on a stack of lumber.

The home poses some “challenges,” Miller said, since it is not being built on a concrete slab like the 16 houses prior to it have. The Dorrietys’ home is being built on a raised pier foundation.

Glaize said the foundation is not the only unique aspect of the home build.

“This is very different for us,” she said. “The home is being built on the homeowners’ land. Normally we buy lots wherever we can find inexpensive lots or lots that are donated. Building out in a rural area is different for us too.”

“What’s she’s done to get to this point today is amazing,” Glaize said. “She has overcome a lot of personal obstacles.”

Knowing firsthand how hard the work is to build a Habitat Home is, Dorriety said that makes her that much more grateful for the volunteers working on her home.

“This is very hard work with the heat the way it is,” she said. “This takes a toll on a lot of people. For people to give time and hours in 90-degree weather, that says a lot about the citizens and their willingness to give is just amazing.”

That willingness to help her has given Dorriety a deeper love for her hometown.

“It makes me proud of Atmore, proud to be a citizen of Atmore,” she said. “For them to give the hours, sweat, and kindness put forth, it has proven to me that Atmore is a strong town.”

As for her future with Habitat, Dorriety has no plans to hang up her tool belt anytime soon.

“Habitat has done so much for me, I want to put forth every minute I can to help. Even when my house is done I’ve told habitat that they will always have my support and I will continue to help them build houses. They have taught me a lot. I actually have enjoyed learning how to build. Me being helpful to other people have come back to me. I will continue to help habitat as long as I am able.”

Glaize said plans are to have the home finished by the end of June. Work will continue today and Sunday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Additional workdays include Friday, May 28, and Saturday, May 29, from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. and every Saturday until work is complete.

As for Dorriety’s first plans in her new home, she said she would have to get past her emotions first.

“I’ll probably cry,” she said. “I’ll be so excited. To have something stable will be a blessing.”