Single mom overwhelmed by gift of new home

Nathan Cobb
Walton Sun

SANTA ROSA BEACH — Gratitude filled the air Tuesday as a local single mom walked into her newly built home for the first time.

Dozens gathered in a Santa Rosa Beach neighborhood to watch Nancy get an opportunity to raise her two daughters in safe and comfortable environment.

According to a press release from Habitat for Humanity, Nancy left her husband after learning he was abusing their 4-year-old daughter. Since then, she has been working full-time toward buying a home. The organization asked that her last name not be publicized.

“It’s overwhelming to take it all in at once,” said Nancy, who was in complete shock at the reality of her new home.

The day was made possible by contributions from Habitat for Humanity of Walton County, Warrick Dunn Charities, Aaron’s and Ryan Jumonville. Together, they financed construction, donated $5,000 to help with the down payment and fully furnished the home.

Teresa Imdieke, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Walton County, said her organization works to help provide affordable housing for working-class citizens. Recipients are selected through an application process and sold a home for its exact building price at 0% interest.

Construction for Nancy’s home was funded by sponsors including the Destin Charity Wine Auction and Rex Lumbar, Imdieke added.

“It takes a village to basically build a Habitat home,” she said.

According to Imdieke, Nancy also worked as a volunteer for the group, putting over 250 hours of “sweat equity” into building her home — a requirement for all Habitat house recipients. This was the group’s 54th home.

“Habitat is not a handout, it’s a helping hand,” Imdieke said. “She’s paying for this house.”

For Warrick Dunn, founder of the Warrick Dunn Charities, the day was part of a mission to help single-parent families who are becoming first-time homeowners.

Dubbed Homes for the Holidays, his program furnishes their homes and provides a donation to help with a down-payment. He added that it’s funded by individual sponsors — like Ryan Jumonville — and Aaron’s, which donates $10,000 worth of furniture. This was the group’s 177th home.

Dunn said the idea started after he was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1997. It was then that a coach challenged him to give back to the community.

“I thought about my mom and her dream of home ownership,” said Dunn. Sadly, Dunn’s mother, a Baton Rouge police officer, was killed in 1993. “I just took my mom’s dream and helped other single-parent families become first time homeowners,” Dunn said.