Habitat gives homeowner a new foundation

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Harvard nearly choked up as he stood beside Mowery at the ceremony.

“Susan is one top-flight woman,” he said. “She’s what this is all about – rebuilding lives. The process of rehabbing, remaking, innovating, revitalizing is the work that God calls all of us to be part of. And that’s what we’re engaged in together.”

Carlisle Harvard was too filled with tears of joy to speak to the crowd. But in an interview, she said her husband’s plan to financially support the rehab effort in her honor came out of the blue.

“Joe and I were taking a walk and all of a sudden, he said: ‘I’ve got a great idea! I want to be partially responsible for building a house for Habitat to honor you, because you’ve done a fabulous job building our home.’ Of course, that’s not true. We built our home together, along with our children. And we hit the jackpot.”

Blake Strayhorn, executive director of Durham Habitat, said the Ashe Street project is part of an effort to address poverty in Northeast Central Durham and preserve houses with rich histories.

“A lot of the folks who bought these homes worked at Golden Belt [textile mill] back in the day, and this was a very thriving community in the 1930s and ’40s,” he said. “Many of these homes have such great bones, and we want to preserve the historic nature of the neighborhood, to honor the past and the future.”

Rehab efforts are expected to begin later this month and be completed in four to five months.

“It will be an energy-efficient home that won’t have high bills or a lot of rot,” Strayhorn said.

Harvard hopes the house will be ready Aug. 17 - his 51st wedding anniversary.

“It’s a challenge, but I think there’s something special about taking a house that’s already here and rehabbing it,” he said. “I’ve come to realize there’s a real symbol there. All of us go through reformation and rehabilitation, and often, we’re stronger and better for it.”

To donate, mail a check to Habitat for Humanity of Durham at 215 N. Church St., Durham, NC 27701 or visit website www.durhamhabitat.org

Habitat Success Stories

Barbara is an elderly neighbor who suffers from COPD. Durham Habitat partnered with the Fuqua School of Business to replace Barbara's roof and HVAC system. Barbara said,"I thank God that Habitat was able to fix my home because I was unable to do it for myself."