By Blake Strayhorn, Executive Director of Durham Habitat
Durham Habitat thrives and relies on strong partnerships, and a very special group of partners gathered January 9th to celebrate the completion of the Durham Habitat home built in partnership with Durham Rotary and the Yancey Family to honor Andy and Placide Barada.
The short dedication program included comments from Habitat homebuyer Willater Yancey, a certified nursing assistant, and her son, Jahmal, and daughter, Jatavia, who spoke about their long journey to homeownership and their dreams for the future. Jahmal is just beginning Durham Tech’s University Transfer program, and plans to transfer to NC State in two years to pursue a degree in Computer Science. Jatavia is a sophomore at Johnson C. Smith University and plans to pursue a career in the music industry. Willater proudly displayed her Paul Harris Fellow certificate, which she plans to hang in a prominent place in her new home.
Habitat Site Supervisor Jesus Gutierrez commended the Yanceys for their excellent work ethic as they earned their sweat equity (required in lieu of a traditional cash down payment), saying “NBA basketball players may use their wealth to buy their parents a house, but Jahmal, how many people do you know who have literally built a home for their Mom? No one, right? But you have, and we are all very proud of you!”
Placide Barada, Past Rotary President Don Stanger and Rotary President Lois Deloatch spoke from the heart about Rotarian Andy Barada’s commitment and passion for both Rotary and Durham Habitat. They noted that this is Durham Rotary’s 6th Habitat house in Durham. Rotarian and Habitat Director Blake Strayhorn commented that the Yancey home is one of 25 new Habitat homes in North East Central Durham. He said Habitat homebuyers are excellent partners who work hard to help break their families out of a cycle of poverty, and that their pride of homeownership changes the fabric of their neighborhoods by lowering crime and improving property values.
District Rotary Governor Newman Aguiar led a strong group of Durham Rotarians in attendance. Song punctuated the dedication twice as President Lois beautifully sang her message that we all need each other and that together we can accomplish so much. After a prayer and home blessing by a Yancey family friend, Rotarian Melissa Mills led the group in a spirited rendition of “If I Had a Hammer.”