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Hard-working Habitat volunteer’s family gets a home

By Kathy Chaffin
kchaffin@salisburypost.com
Nineteen-year-old Tyrone Rankin began volunteering for Habitat for Humanity of Rowan County several years ago, working at the Habitat ReStore on East Innes Street.
When his family was selected for the recently-completed Thrivent Habitat House in the Forest Creek subdivision, Tyrone exceeded the 400 hours of sweat equity a Habitat family is asked to volunteer on the construction despite having some developmental disabilities.
“I think Tyrone got twice that much,” said David Rowh, construction supervisor for Habitat of Rowan County. “He worked with us every single day. He didn’t really have any construction experience, but by the time we got done, he was getting to be pretty good at it.”
Once they found out Tyrone’s family had applied for a Habitat house, Regina Stansel, manager of the Habitat ReStore, and Elizabeth Brady, director of store operations, checked regularly with the main office to see if the Rankin family had been approved.
Habitat families are selected by a committee of 14 volunteers, according to Executive Director Coleman Emerson. “They look at every application individually,” Emerson said, “and when the Rankins’ application came through, they were considered just the same as everyone else, but they did qualify.”
Stansel and Brady said they couldn’t help but hope that Tyrone’s family got selected. “We wanted to see him get a home more than anybody that’s ever worked in here,” Stansel said, “and we knew they would be such good homeowners.”
The Rankins had been paying around $700 a month for rent, and their payment for the new Habitat house will be in the $300s. Plus, everything is new while the rental house was in disrepair.
The Rankins ó Tyrone, his parents, Harry and Caroline, and his two brothers, 16-year-old Mike and 14-year-old Corey ó moved into their new house at 842 Carpenter’s Circle two weeks ago.
Sixty-five percent of the cost of the house was paid with a $50,667 grant from Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. Habitat picked up 10 percent of the cost, and the other 10 percent was raised by the two Thrivent chapters (the East Rowan Thrivent Chapter and Southwest Rowan Thrivent Chapter) and the local Lutheran congregations.
In addition to contributing the sweat equity hours for his family, David Rowh said Tyrone kept up with the hours of the other volunteers. “We called him the sign-in Nazi,” he said. “As soon as everybody showed up, he signed them in.
“Sometimes he signed in people that weren’t even supposed to be signed up.”
Rowh said everyone enjoyed working with Tyrone. “He was really protective of his house,” he said, particularly if any of the workers got too close to the concrete drive with mud on their boots.
Tyrone wasn’t that protective of the Habitat house being constructed at the same time next door. “His driveway was pristine,” he said, “and the other drive had mud all over it.”
The dedication was especially poignant for Rowh and other Habitat workers. With the family gathered on the front porch, Rowh said, Harry Rankin told Tyrone that he did a good job working on the house. “We were all excited about that,” he said.
Mike and Corey Rankin are thrilled with their new house as they now have their own bedrooms. They shared one in the rental house. Corey even got a new bed, his mother said.
Their dog, Bandit, also seemed excited about the new house when Mike brought him over for the first time. Mike said they plan to build a house for him in the back yard.
Bandit has apparently earned his name. “He’s as bad as Jesse James,” Caroline said.
She put down plastic runners to protect the tan carpet that Tyrone helped Habitat workers pick out. Elizabeth Brady said he also helped pick out the ceiling fans, light fixtures and countertops.
“I love it,” Caroline said of the house. She said she was looking forward to displaying family pictures on the freshly painted walls.
The no-interest payments on the house will save the Rankin family around $400 a month. Harry is the only working member of the family and walks to his job at Wal-Mart while Caroline stays home with Corey, who also has developmental disabilities.
Habitat of Humanity allows people to buy homes at cost and without interest. Though the houses are paid for at construction, Emerson said a portion of the buyers’ payments go toward a fund to build more houses and the rest is gathered in an escrow for property taxes and house insurance.
He said the average monthly payment for Habitat homes is $400.
Karen Degraaf, who teaches Basic Educational Students in Transition at Salisbury High School, said she wasn’t surprised to hear how hard her former student had worked on his family’s Habitat house. “Tyrone is an awesome kid,” she said, “and he’s very self-motivated.”
A 2008 graduate of Salisbury High, Tyrone is currently looking for employment. Stansel said he even made up business cards offering to do odd jobs.
“I thought that was pretty smart of him,” she said.
Stansel said Tyrone will make someone a great employee. “You can’t outwork him,” she said. “I can’t, and I’m a hard worker.”
Until he finds a job, Tyrone’s back volunteering at the Habitat ReStore.Contact Kathy Chaffin at 704-797-7683.

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