Qunita Williams hasn’t moved in to her new house in Arrowhead Beach, but she already feels at home there.
Williams, Ryan Harris and their daughter Ry’ Milliya Harris, 3, have spent a lot of time at the house on Mohegan Trail, helping a crew of volunteers rehabilitate a home that was sold to Chowan/Perquimans Habitat for Humanity by owners who believed it was their mission to help others.
On Saturday, at the dedication of the tidy home in this quiet neighborhood of lush lawns and big trees along the Chowan River, the family gathered with Habitat leaders, volunteers, a barbershop quartet and, most tellingly, a welcoming committee from the Arrowhead Beach Property Owners Association.
“The first day I went out there I met half the neighbors,” Williams said. “They were very, very friendly. We’re excited, ready to move in. We want to live in the neighborhood, rather than just meeting people. Every time we go, someone says, ‘If you ever need something, don’t be afraid to come by.’”
Colleen Nicholas spoke on behalf of the Arrowhead Beach Homeowners Association to welcome the new family to the community.
“We were thrilled when we heard that Habitat for Humanity was refurbishing a home,” Nicholas said later in an interview. “We want our homes to be in great condition. We want new homeowners to move in to Arrowhead Beach.”
The house is part of the ambitious State Employees Credit Union Mountains-to-the-Sea Challenge, in which Habitat for Humanity NC partners with Habitat affiliates throughout North Carolina, using a $10 million SECU Foundation grant to build or refurbish a home in each of North Carolina’s 100 counties. At the closing, the Chowan-Perquimans Habitat assigns the mortgage SECU and immediately receives funds (the full value of the first mortgage) from SECU to invest in another home for a family in need, which will be built in Perquimans County.
For Sally Holloway, president of the Habitat affiliate, the process of finding and restoring the house had a spiritual dimension.
“Terry Waff brought the house to our attention,” Holloway explains, referring to the affiliate’s vice-president. “She knew the homeowners were moving, and that they had supported Habitat in the past. The homeowners were very assured in their hearts that this was what the Lord wanted. This house was meant to go to Habitat.
“Renovation works very nicely for us,” Holloway explained. “This was in a part of Chowan we had never built in before. The Arrowhead community has just been remarkable, very welcoming in support of Habitat. The house came with two additional lots that we can build on in the future.”
The Williams’ house will be added to the 15 houses – nine in Chowan and six in Perquimans – that this Habitat affiliate has built in its 20-year history, working with a staff and volunteers made up mostly of retirees who have moved to Chowan County from all around the nation.
For Qunita Williams, Saturday’s dedication marked the end of a two-year process with Habitat – one she and Ryan had almost given up on to pursue a traditional bank loan when a letter from Habitat showed up in her mailbox.
“Miss Trish did not forget us,” Williams said, referring to Trish Ludwig, chair of the family selection committee for the affiliate. The family met with Ludwig and the process was rolling.
“Before the process started, Miss Trish had asked us if we would be comfortable living there” as one of the few African-American families in Arrowhead Beach. But the warm welcome she and her family got put their minds at ease. “Our mindset is back in olden times. But times have changed.
“It’s a blessing. It’s God telling us this is for a reason.”
By Bill DuPre
Habitat for Humanity NC