Home at last! says new Beaufort Habitat recipient

BEAUFORT -- Jeanette Holmes carefully put the key in the door of her new home on Hamar Street in Beaufort, cracked the door slightly -- and paused.

"Can I go in?" she asked.

"Of course, you can," said Brenda Dooley, executive director of the LowCountry Habitat for Humanity. "It's yours."

Habitat for Humanity, with the financial backing of the residents of the Habersham neighborhood, handed Holmes the keys to a new 1,110-square-foot house during a dedication ceremony Sunday outside the home on Hamar Street.

Standing inside her new living room with her sons, Diaje, 12, and Jamaari, 9, Holmes said she was humbled to finally have a place to call home.

"It's a dream come true," she said. "This is so great for me and my family, and I'm so happy to finally have my own home."

Holmes' home is the second of five houses LowCountry Habitat for Humanity plans to build on the corner of Hamar Street and Prince Street near downtown Beaufort on land donated by Beaufort County, according to Dooley.

Dooley said it took $50,000 in construction costs and specialty labor and more than 2,500 hours to make Holmes' dream a reality.

"There are some jobs such as electricity, plumbing and (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) that we have to pay for, but the businesses in the area are usually willing to give us a good deal," she said.

The new Habitat homes downtown were also outfitted with residential sprinkler systems, furnished by the Beaufort Fire Department.

"This is the first time we've ever had them, but (the Fire Department) was adamant that these homes have those sprinkler systems and that we not have to pay for them," Dooley said.

Building two homes almost simultaneously, volunteers helped construct Holmes' house and another home on the donated land to be dedicated next month, in record time.

"These houses usually take about one year to build, and we managed to build these two homes in six months," said Susan Ferguson, chairman of Habitat's board of directors.

The house was sponsored by Habersham residents, who provided the funding and volunteered to help build the home.

"We're proud to have helped build a place where Jeanette and her family can make a future for themselves," said Bob Turner, who represented the neighbors at the ceremony.

After dedicating the other home next month, the group plans to build two more houses on the land, both of which already have sponsors.

Dooley said a slumping economy could hurt the group's ability tobuild more houses in the Beaufort area.

"The economy could certainly be a challenge," she said. "We've got the Re-Store as well on Parris Island Gateway and we've already seen a decrease in donations there, so that could be an indication of where we're headed."

The need in the Beaufort area has not decreased.

At a series of orientation meetings for potential homeowners this month, Dooley said, more than 60 people showed up. The group will pick two of those families to receive homes.