New Orleans East Dedication Marks Highlight of the Habitat Experience
The highlight of the Habitat experience is the home dedication. Each dedication is the culmination of incalculable hard work, and for those of us who have seen so many home dedications over the years, the sight of a homeowner raising their (symbolic) key in victory at the end of the gift giving part of the ceremony is the reason we work for NOAHH. When it’s pointed out that Wednesday’s dedication was no different from most of the others we’ve been to, this is a good thing.
Latoure Steward grew up in uptown New Orleans. He has a daughter, Donesty, whom he is proud to be giving a new home. He says that during his time in the Habitat program, he found he enjoyed most helping other partner families build their homes.
“It’s a great feeling helping someone else reach their goal of homeownership while working towards my own,” he said.
During the dedication, he spoke briefly from the heart about his gratitude for the support her received while working toward his new home. Steward’s home in New Orleans East was dedicated to a crowd of over 100 volunteers in town for spring break, including students from George Washington University. RHINO volunteers were also present. The volunteers joined the dedication ceremony to give the traditional, symbolic gifts of bread, flowers, wine, tools, a Bible, and keys to Steward as he and his family stood on the porch of their home. Afterward, the volunteers toured the home as Steward shook hands and greeted as many as possible.
All NOAHH homeowners put in sweat equity in lieu of a down payment on their mortgage. These hours are worked in the ReStore, building on site (including 100 hours on the partner family’s own home), and through homeownership classes and other events. Children of partner families can also contribute by earning good grades. All of this hard work pays off, though, and the dedication ceremony is just the start. A Habitat home means stability, comfort, and affordability, and that will last the rest of Steward’s life.”