Some Much Needed Stability in Stanly County
Cassie Brown remembers the date that life changed for her family. “Jacob got sick two years ago, Nov. 15, 2016.”
Her husband called her from work. He needed to see an eye doctor; his vision had suddenly become blurred. “We thought it was something you could get a pill for,” Cassie said, standing in her family’s new home in Stanfield, a town of about 1,500, 30 miles east of Charlotte, on Oct. 23 following a Stanly County Habitat for Humanity dedication.
“We are now sitting at two years and the Mayo Clinic has told us that they have no idea what is wrong with him. We went to Rochester, Minnesota, three times. We’ve been to the location in Jacksonville (Florida) seven times. There are still no answers.”
Today Jacob walks with a cane; his mind is sharp but speaking is difficult. He’s on disability from his job with Corning, in the manufacture of fiber-optic cable. Cassie has left her job as a health-care giver for Monarch to take care of her husband and their children, Aydyn, 10, and her brother Kaleb, 8.
If their future seems uncertain in some ways, this day marked a turning point for the Browns. There’s a firm foundation under their feet, a roof over their heads and caring neighbors just a holler away. Cassie’s optimism and gratitude spill forth. “It’s been a true blessing that Habitat for Humanity has given us the opportunity to get this house,” she said. Earlier, during the dedication ceremony, she had wept.
For Bryan Price, who heads up public relations and fund development for the Stanly County Habitat affiliate, the Browns were such a perfect fit that the application process was completed in record speed. “We had been trying to find someone for a western-end build for about two years,” Price said. “We really wanted to build on this lot but we have to have a family before we can build. Nothing seemed to work out. Last year I got a phone call from Jacob. They were in my office that afternoon. Tuesday morning they were back with all the paperwork. Cassie came into my office and dropped a notebook on my desk. She had all the paperwork, with everyone’s birth certificates in plastic sleeves.”
There was a home visit the next day, and they were approved for a home on Thursday morning. “Three weeks later they had completed 100 hours of sweat equity,” Price said. “It’s a blessing to work with people who are dedicated and motivated.”
The Browns’ home is part of the Mountains-to-the-Sea initiative to build a Habitat home in each of North Carolina’s 100 counties. The ambitious goal is funded by a $10 million grant from the State Employees Credit Union Foundation. Once Jacob and Cassie assume a zero-percent-interest mortgage from SECU, the money will be returned to the Stanly affiliate so that another home can be built.
For now, the tidy three-bedroom, two-bath home, equipped with a wheelchair ramp for whatever the future may bring to this family, is a beacon of hope. And the young family’s optimism is infectious. On Stanly Habitat’s Facebook page, under a photo of the new home, Barbara Brown, Jacob’s mother, wrote: “I can see the lovely children running around the yard and Cassie calling them for supper.”
Bill DuPre, Habitat for Humanity N.C.