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Habitat for Humanity dedicates house built by Catawba, Livingstone students

SALISBURY — For twins Janae and Janelle, it was a great way to mark their seventh birthday.

For Catawba and Livingstone colleges, it was a beautiful, sunny day to celebrate collaboration, service and community.

Habitat for Humanity of Rowan County dedicated its 129th house Monday afternoon. This one proved somewhat different than many of the others because it brought together the students of Salisbury’s two four-year colleges to build a house for a mother and her five daughters.

Livingstone College President Jimmy Jenkins said he is proud of the students of both schools, describing the dedication as “humbling, to say the least.” He also quoted a Bible passage in which God says, “If you love me, take care of my sheep.”

Brien Lewis, president of Catawba College, echoed the strong sentiment about service expressed by Jenkins and said he was thrilled at the opportunity presented for the schools to collaborate “on something so tangible.”

Lewis said the words of “scholarship,” “character,” “culture” and “service” on the Catawba College seal are all embodied in this house, which is painted sky blue with burgundy shutters.

The new home sits at the corner of South Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue and Old Concord Road (South Long Street), diagonally across from the House of Prayer for All People.

Azende King, student government president at Livingstone, said the project was “a marvelous thing for the colleges to give back” to the family and community at large.

“We had such an amazing time putting this home together,” added Jordan Darrisaw, one of the Catawba student volunteers.

He said the schools working together maybe helped break some stereotypes.

“It’s an honor to be here,” Darrisaw said.

It turned out Catawba and Livingstone students were not alone on the project. Staff, faculty and alumni from both schools pitched in, as did some Pfeiffer University students from nearby Misenheimer.

The students worked mostly on weekends and, yes, there has been plenty of rain, even snow, since this whole project started in October.

This is the first Habitat for Humanity house dedicated in Rowan County that hasn’t been finished and isn’t ready to be moved in, Executive Director Coleman Emerson said.

The dedication had to happen Monday for the 1,300-square-foot, four-bedroom, two-bathroom house because of upcoming spring breaks in separate weeks for Catawba and Livingstone.

Plus, the rainy weather made it impossible to hit the target occupancy date. Emerson said the move-in day for Nyesha Patterson and her girls is March 18.

“It’s hard to remember the weekends that were dry,” said Johnathon Boles, associate director of the Lilly Center for Vocation & Values and the project manager on Catawba College’s end.

His Livingstone counterpart was Christian Reeves, assistant director of career and professional development.

As always, the family for whom the house was built also put in hours, shoulder-to-shoulder with the college students.

Nyesha Patterson’s daughters include Shiyonna Patterson, 16, who attends Salisbury High; Michaela Hatchett, 12, a sixth-grader at Knox Middle School; Janae and Janelle Spangler, both 7, who are in the first grade at Isenberg Elementary; and Samara Spangler, 4, who attends the Head Start program at the former J.C. Price High.

In brief remarks, Nyesha Patterson thanked both colleges. and praised the dedication displayed by Boles. “It was a very learning experience. I appreciate it all,” she said.

As part of the ceremony, Michaela Hatchett read a passage of Scripture, and the crowd, keeping their shoes dry and clean on a newly poured driveway, sang “Happy Birthday” to the 7-year-old twins.

As is the standard practice at a Habitat house dedication, Emerson presented Nyesha Patterson with a Bible, meant to symbolize the first gift given for the new home.

In his benediction, longtime Habitat board member Pete Teague said every house dedication is a special occasion for what it represents.

Terri Stevenson, associate vice president of student affairs and student engagement at Livingstone, also sits on the Habitat for Humanity board of directors.

Stevenson served as the family support person between Habitat and Nyesha Patterson, and Stevenson kept track of the required hours Nyesha had to work on the construction of her home.

Patterson fulfilled her obligation even though over the holidays she was putting in long hours with Federal Express, Stevenson said.

“That was an amazing thing,” Stevenson added.

Students and other representatives of Catawba, Livingstone and Pfeiffer toured the inside of the home after Monday’s dedication.

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.

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