Dedication held for Habitat house that Livingstone College helped build

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 31, 2013

Home ownership is a dream held by millions of Americans across the country. And thanks to the benevolence of Livingstone College and Habitat for Humanity of Rowan County, that dream is now a reality for a Spencer family.
On Oct. 26, many Livingstone College students were on hand for a dedication ceremony for the latest house constructed by Habitat for Humanity of Rowan County.
Among them was Shari Albury, president of the college’s Student Government Association.
“On behalf of the faculty, staff and students of Livingstone College, I would like to extend a very warm welcome to you this morning,” Albury said at the event which began at 9:30 a.m. and lasted about 35 minutes. “We’re so very proud to be a part of this effort. They say it takes hearts to make a home. With that I want you to know that Livingstone College has helped to build this house with our hearts, and we hope you can make this house your home.”
Albury directed her comments to the homeowner, who asked to remain anonymous. Her comments were preceded by those from Pete Teague, president of Habitat for Humanity of Rowan County, who began by speaking directly to Livingstone students.
“It’s wonderful to be here at this dedication ceremony,” Teague said. “There’s been a lot of hard work that’s been done, and we appreciate you all for that. I got the impression that you all had a great time doing it.
“We appreciate the partnership with Livingstone College,” Teague continued. “Habitat is very much a partnership ministry…I never fail to mention that Habitat is unapologetically a Christian ministry and is not tied to any church or denomination. It’s a ministry which seeks to help persons to have a simple, decent place to live. You have helped that to happen for this family, and we appreciate that. We want to show the love of Jesus Christ, and that’s what we’re all about.”
Livingstone got involved with building the house in Spencer after Teague contacted Livingstone President Dr. Jimmy R. Jenkins, Sr. several months ago to ask whether the institution would partner with his organization.
Jenkins jumped at the chance for his students to engage in community service. After all no matter their GPAs, all Livingstone College students must perform a minimum of 80 hours of community service before they graduate.
And besides that, helping to build a Habitat house for a deserving family is just the right thing to do.
“I’m so proud of the students of Livingstone College because they continue defying the odds,” Jenkins said at Saturday’s dedication ceremony. “These are students who are making a difference, and I am so proud for this to happen on my watch. I would first like to say to the Blue Bears, thank you for your enthusiasm. Thank you for your hard work. I saw energy and enthusiasm when you were out here working on this house, and I want to thank Habitat for letting us be a part of this.”
As Jenkins spoke, his students looked on, many unable to contain their pride.
“It’s a great time of the year for this to happen because it’s almost the Thanksgiving season,” Jenkins continued. “It’s an opportunity to give thanks to God for being able to give back because it is much better to give than to receive. To the receiving family, I want you to know how proud we are to be a part of this. On behalf of the Board of Trustees of Livingstone College, I want to say thank you. We’re giving you a $1,500 gift card so that you can use it for this beautiful home.”
The Livingstone students who worked on the Habitat house did so under the direction of Manuel McGriff, assistant vice president of student affairs and dean of students. In fact, the Habitat project was part of their annual Student Leadership Retreat.
In years past students have traveled to other states to perform community service work. For example in 2009 a busload of students spent a week in New Orleans repairing homes and businesses damaged during Hurricane Katrina, and in 2011 students went to Birmingham, Ala., to perform community service work there.
McGriff put in countless hours with the students, ensuring they went above and beyond what was expected of them. He also gave up many Saturday mornings to chaperone the Spencer site while the students labored.
“Twenty-six hundred hours ago we met a family that had a dream,” McGriff said at the dedication. “At our initial meeting this was just a foundation, and I didn’t know how we were going to build this house. But, after 11 weeks, we have built more than a house. We have built a relationship. Moreover, we added two new members to the Blue Bear family…”
After the homeowner made brief remarks, McGriff led the assemblage in a Litany of Dedication, the homeowner’s nephew said a prayer of dedication, a scripture was read by Jane Hartness, Habitat volunteer coordinator, the family was presented a Bible by Coleman Emerson, Habitat executive director, and Owen Forbes, director of the Livingstone College Gospel Choir, gave the benediction and played music.
“The dedication ceremony was great,” McGriff said afterward in an interview. “I join Dr. Jenkins in being proud of the students and what they accomplished. It’s likely many of them had never even thought about building a house before this experience, but now many of them say they’d love to do it again.”