The afternoon of March 2, a couple of dozen people gathered at two new houses built on a small street north of U.S. Highway 98.

They were there to celebrate, dedicate, and ask for God's blessings on Habitat for Humanity's 47th and 48th homes and the families that will inhabit them.

As friends and supporters excitedly ran to Joseph Shaw to give a hug, he couldn't hide his emotions, and wiped away tears.

"Having this house means the world," he said emotionally.

His wife, Tiffany, said the same.

This house is the first home for the Shaws to own. They moved into their new home last week, along with their two sons, from a two-bedroom mobile home.

"This is the first time the two boys have had their own rooms," said Tiffany, who was all smiles. "Receiving this has changed our whole lives."

Next door, Emily Garrick and her daughters Carley and Samantha showed visitors around their home. It is also Garrick's first home to own.

"It feels amazing," she said. "There is a peace and security knowing it is ours."

When Garrick lost her husband, she had to move in with friends as he was the sole bread winner.

The homes were made possible through Habitat's partnership with the Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort, and donations from Sandestin residents Chuck and Shirley Simpson, and Steve and Mary Ellen Buffington, as well as Destin Charity Wine Auction.

However, the homes are not gifts. Everyone who receives a home must contribute to the building of their home and the building of others, and be able to make payments toward an interest-free mortgage, said Habitat for Humanity of Walton County's Executive Director Teresa Imdieke.

Habitat for Humanity is a Christian-based organization whose mission statement is: Seeking to put God's love into action, Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities, and hope.

Work has already begun on Home No. 49.