A Blessed Home in Cleveland County
By Casey White. This article originally appeared in the Shelby Star on April 14th, 2019
The phrase “God bless my home” is written on the frame of a brand new house on South Hampton Street.
Though the words are now covered by the interior and exterior walls, homeowner Shumicka Phillips knows they are there. She knows because she wrote the words and helped cut the wooden frame herself.
Phillips is now preparing to move into the home she helped build through Habitat for Humanity.
“It seems unreal,” she said. “It’s something you can really call home, something that really belongs to you.”
Phillips is a mother of four, with two school-aged children who still live with her. She learned about Habitat for Humanity through a friend and started the process around one year ago.
Homeowners who buy Habitat houses must either work on homes while they are being built or work in the Habitat Restore, putting in a total of 200 hours of sweat equity per adult.
Phillips’ first day building was the organization’s Women Build Day, where she worked alongside 20 other volunteers and inscribed the message on the frame they built together.
Since the start of construction, more than 100 volunteers have helped make her new home a reality.
“Good people is hard to come by,” Phillips said. “They didn’t know nothing about me, they never met me or anything, but they just jumped in to start helping out.”
A special project
Phillips’ home, the 28th house built for the local Habitat chapter, is a unique one.
It was built as part of a challenge by the State Employees Credit Union Foundation to build 100 Habitat homes, with one in each of North Carolina’s 100 counties.
But the endgame was the same, which was to build affordable housing for a local family, according to Habitat for Humanity Cleveland County Executive Director Burney Drake.
“She’s been a good homeowner, and she’s got a good family,” Drake said. “This will give them a new start. Every family’s got a story, and this changes their lives but it changes generations.”
Phillips’ daughters, Tykeria Ussery and Zariyah Borders, are excited to each have their own rooms.
Both said their mom deserved a home to call her own for all she has done for the family.
Ussery, the elder of the two live-at-home daughters, recalls putting in her own sweat equity to the house she’ll now call home.
“I was tired, but it was an experiment and I had fun with everybody,” she said. “Most importantly, I just want to thank God overall because if it wasn’t for Him, we wouldn’t have anything.”
Next for Habitat
Rain during the construction process delayed Phillips’ home by about three months.
The last of the work was wrapping up ahead of the weekend, with a dedication of the home set to take place Sunday.
The latest house is located next door to Habitat for Humanity Cleveland County’s 25th home in the county. The organization now has its sights set on another area of Shelby.
Last year, ground was officially broken on the chapter’s next project on Vermont Street. The organization plans to build five new homes in the area they are calling the Vermont Village.
“We’ve got the homeowners selected, and we’re ready to dig footers and start foundation work,” Drake said.
BY THE NUMBERS
– 28 homes have been built by Habitat for Humanity Cleveland County
– 14 volunteer groups helped build Shumicka Phillips’ home
– 101 individuals worked on the home
– 1,250 volunteer hours went into building the house