Habitat Neighborhood Growing

Ursula Tally saw her dream of home ownership come true Friday.

The Gulfport woman and her two children are the newest residents of Habitat Village. That's the neighborhood started by Habitat for Humanity several years ago.

WLOX partnered with Habitat for Humanity to build the first house in Habitat Village. Friday, the the organization dedicated house number eight in that growing neighborhood.

The mission of Habitat is to help low income families achieve the American dream of home ownership. This latest project was made possible by volunteers from the Armed Forces Retirement Home, formerly the Naval Home.

"Eventually, South Carolina Avenue is going to be full of brand new homes just like you see here today," said a Habitat for Humanity spokesman at the dedication ceremony.

Those who helped build the newest home gathered to dedicate the project. A smiling Ursula Tally cut the ceremonial ribbon to make things official.

Part of the pride of Habitat home ownership comes from the sweat equity invested. Home owners are required to help build the houses.

"A place to call my own. To be able to come home after work and relax. And seeing the progress that I've done. Hands on work. Helping build it. I'm just proud of it," said Ursula Tally.

Dedicated volunteers from the Armed Forces Retirement Home made her dream possible.

Robert Pierce was among the tireless volunteers.

"And I hate to waste time. Because the Lord didn't put you here to waste time. He put you here for a purpose. If you ain't got something to do for yourself, do something for somebody else who needs it done," explained Pierce.

Habitat Village will eventually include 27 homes. The biggest need right now is finding groups willing to join with Habitat for Humanity to become covenant partners on a project.

"A covenant partner is actually the builder. They get out here on a Saturday and they just hammer nails and put shingles on and sheathing and siding and all of that. Then they paint the house when it's ready for it," said Bill Maguire, who directs Harrison County Habitat for Humanity.

Willing volunteers can help bring smiles to more happy home owners, like Ursula Tally.

Armed Forces Retirement Home director, John Zink, is happy the military retirees adopted the home building project.

"It's the whole spirit of volunteerism in this country. You've got folks that have talents. And you have folks out there who need a leg up or need help along the way. And these kind of programs allow for those two groups to come together," said Zink.

The volunteers who help build Habitat houses bring a variety of skills to such a project. And it's not all about laying bricks or nailing down shingles. A lady named Tommie Lucas is responsible for the homemade curtains that hang in Ursula Tally's new home.