DOBBINS HEIGHTS — At 70 years old and with an arthritic knee, Callie Martin has trouble walking up steps.
Now she and her husband, Ronnie, don’t have to, thanks to Habitat for Humanity of the N.C. Sandhills and Enviva.
Workers from Habitat, along with eight volunteers from Enviva and a few Habitat homeowners spent Tuesday morning adding a wheelchair ramp to the Martins’ home on Paul McLendon Street.
“I’ve needed it for a long time,” Callie Martin said, sitting underneath the carport to escape the summer heat, as the ramp was being completed.
Habitat Executive Director Amie Fraley said another ramp is planned for the front door.
“This is going to be a blessing for her — and me,” Ronnie Martin said. “We ain’t getting any younger.”
The Martins’ home was one of three Habitat projects on the same street Tuesday, according to Fraley.
The group also stained two porches that were previously constructed. One of those two homes also had roof and window repairs through Habitat.
Jim Parsons has been the aging-in-place coordinator for Habitat since December.
He said he’s done so many repairs in the small town that the residents recognize him when he drives down the street.
“We’ve done a lot of work over here,” he said, taking a short break from drilling down planks of wood on the ramp.
Habitat does most of the woodworking, like porches and ramps, but other projects, including roof, window and HVAC repairs, are subcontracted, Parsons said.
Enviva has partnered with Habitat since before the nearby wood pellet plant on N.C. 177 was complete, according to Senior Community Relations Manager Chistopher Brown, who was on-site, hammer in hand.
Brown said the company has a focus on revitalization projects, especially in Dobbins Heights, and plans to help with an upcoming home build on Rosemont Avenue in Hamlet.
“I learn something new every time I volunteer out here,” Brown said.
In recent years, Habitat has had more than 20 home repair projects in Dobbins Heights alone, according to Fraley.
“They have been so wonderful,” Councilwoman Angeline David said about both Habitat and Enviva. She said she’s been a part of the revitalization for much of the past decade. “It makes a difference and they show the love in what they’re doing. I’m really appreciative.”
Fraley told the RO on Monday that Habitat has provided more than 20 “critical repairs” — repairs exceeding $5,000 and addressing “a dire safety need for the homeowner” — in Richmond County within the past year.
Funding for the repairs comes from the Urgent Repair Program awarded by the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency. Habitat is currently accepting applications to use the funds awarded this year.
Potential applicants are encouraged to email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 910-295-1934 and select the option for repairs to learn more and apply.
Habitat has built 16 homes in Richmond County since 2005. One of those was recycled and dedicated to another family this past June.
Fraley said Habitat is still looking for volunteers on Thursdays and Saturdays, Sept. 23-Oct. 16 for the Hamlet build.
Anyone interested in volunteering is encouraged to visit the organization’s website, sandhillshabitat.org, and click the large blue “VOLUNTEER” button.
Photo courtesy of Christopher Brown – Enviva