Habitat for Humanity Opens Guyton House

GUYTON — If Habitat for Humanity of Effingham County’s newest home could talk, it would have quite the story to tell.

Construction of the structure at 150 4th St. Extension has been hampered by long periods of rain and, of course, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s been an interesting build,” Habitat for Humanity executive director Jimmy Rutland said at a groundbreaking ceremony Feb. 12.

Construction began in September 2020, just months before COVID-19 triggered quarantines and social distancing.

“We had half the number of volunteers we had on the last (Habitat) house,” Rutland said. “Some days there would only be two of us here. We only worked on Saturdays, and God decided to have a wet winter and spring last year, which cut out about six Saturdays.

The construction process – which usually takes about nine months – was particularly long for Fran Ross, the owner of the house. She was approved for the mortgage in 2019.

“We finally got the walls up in November of last year,” Rutland said, “and then it rained. We were so proud of ourselves that day.

Ross and his family helped with the construction. The minimum “work equity” commitment for a Habitat applicant is 250 hours.

“The family together — between Fran, her dad, and others — put in over 300 hours at this house,” Rutland said.

In addition to volunteer construction workers, Habitat for Humanity relies heavily on in-kind donors. Those for Ross’s house were:

— Presnell, Kraft Haus Creators Inc. (general contracting services)

— Plumbing and mechanical simulation (HVAC system)

— Curtis Ethridge (HVAC workforce)

— Clay Morgan, Rain-N-Shine Irrigation (site preparation and concrete services)

— Enterprise Rent-a-Car (house paint)

— Planters Telecommunications Foundation (water meter fees)

Ross and his family expressed their gratitude to Habitat for Humanity in a special way. She presented Rutland with a $500 check for the organization while he told the story of the house.

“That was probably the biggest blessing in our lives other than the birth of my kids,” Ross said.

Ross’ initial application for a Habitat home was rejected in 2018 because his income barely exceeded the qualifying level.

“It was a bit frustrating,” she said.

Ross was given another chance after income restrictions were relaxed the following year.

She said: ‘I wouldn’t have known how to apply if Mr Jimmy hadn’t reached out and said, ‘Hey. Try again.’ We really have to thank him for that.

The next two Habitat for Humanity homes are expected to be built in the same area. The organization is looking for candidates for them.

Apply at https://www.habitatec.org/homeownership/.

For more information about Habitat for Humanity, call 912-826-6433.

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