Habitat house dedicated with tears of joy

September 16, 2006|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - Tammy Cogle has cried a lot lately.

At the dedication of her newly constructed home off Arch Street in Martinsburg, the 35-year-old mother of twin 10-year-old daughters, Jessica and Destiny, cried again.

"It has been such a struggle for me to figure out how to get out of that trailer," said Cogle, a single mother.

The mobile home, off Prospect Avenue in Charles Town, W.Va., was in "really, really bad" condition, she said.

"It's overwhelming. I finally got here ... If it wasn't for Habitat (for Humanity of the Eastern Panhandle) we'd probably still be stuck," Cogle said after the three-bedroom, white vinyl-sided home was dedicated by members of the nonprofit organization and Eastern Panhandle Home Builders Association Inc.


The sixth home to be built this year by Habitat for Humanity volunteers in the Eastern Panhandle, and the 24th since 1993, was the first to be substantially completed in a five-day "blitz," said Judy Boykin, president of the organization's board.

"We can't think of a more deserving family," Boykin said prior to giving opening remarks from the front steps of Cogle's home, and recognizing the cooperation of volunteers, and the support of elected officials and dozens of contributors to the project.

The first step already had been "dedicated" the night before by Cogle's daughters, who used a nail to etch their initials and "mom" in wet concrete.

The occasion was most rewarding for Brian Hensell, the project manager for Habitat for Humanity and a Home Builders Association community service committee member.

"The first one is always the hardest," Hensell said of orchestrating construction that normally takes a few months to complete.

The foundation was completed before the five-day "blitz" began Monday at noon. By Friday at 5:50 p.m., only an hour late by Hensell's schedule, a punch list of items was all that remained to be completed in the 1,150-square-foot, single-story house, he said.

"The hard part is when something doesn't go right," said Hensell, noting Habitat for Humanity has well-established guidelines on how to "blitz build."

Though not fully adhered to the ceiling because paint had yet to dry, a fan circulated air in the kitchen/dining room as volunteers completed laying carpet during the dedication program, and foundation vents still had to be installed.

Cogle is required to complete 500 hours of "sweat equity" before moving in, and will be trained how to use tools to help complete some of the work. She also plans to take part in an all-woman Habitat project planned in the coming days.

With big smiles on their faces, Cogle's daughters both said they were thankful for the home, but admitted they would miss their friends in Jefferson County.

"I'm so happy," Jessica Cogle said. "The only thing is, I don't want to come to a different school."

Her sister agreed, saying she would miss her teachers, too.

"I'm going to really miss my friends a lot," Destiny Cogle said. "I just would like to thank the Habitat people."

The Herald-Mail Articles