By SHEILA OJENDYK
GREENVILLE — A few short months ago, Jessie Jones’ house was still a dream inside her head. Now, she has the keys to her Habitat for Humanity home in the Saluda Bluffs subdivision.
Habitat for Humanity celebrated with Jones in a dedication and blessing service on Oct. 28. Bob Whitley, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Greenville County, was the first speaker in the brief program. Whitley tells all new Habitat sponsors three things: They need to organize; they need to participate; they need to celebrate. After the labor is done, Habitat holds a dedication ceremony for every new homeowner.
Annie Burt, director of volunteers for Habitat, recognized the churches for their cooperation and hard work. She awarded plaques to the major sponsors of Jones’ house, which were the parishes of Prince of Peace, St. Mary, and St. Mary Magdalene and Claimsware, Inc., a Greenville business.
Mary Anne Festa, from Prince of Peace, presented Jones with a new Bible, and Wally Buser, a representative of Claimsware gave her a toolbox. Bill Biedinger, Habitat coordinator from St. Mary’s, gave Jones the keys to her new home. A representative of the homeowners association welcomed Jones to the community and gave her a housewarming gift.
Father Anthony Droze, pastor of St. Mary’s, began the blessing with “… seek to make your new home before all else a dwelling place of love, diffusing far and wide the goodness of Christ” (Book of Blessings, p. 293). Following the traditional house blessing, Father Droze followed Jones room by room through her new home, sprinkling each with holy water. Since the doors were not yet installed, he carefully sprinkled them as they balanced on sawhorses with still-damp paint.
Children from St. Mary’s in kindergarten through fifth grade collected money to buy trees for Jones’ house and planted the first tree themselves. John Conway, Habitat coordinator from Prince of Peace, held a new crape myrtle in place as each child shoveled a load of dirt into the hole. Father Droze watered the tree with the holy water left over from the blessing.
Jones thanked “all for their help in this labor of love, … for making a dream come true for me.” She thanked the people, and she thanked God, saying “I am very happy.” She thanked the children for buying the trees and said how happy she was to meet them.
Whitley concluded the dedication ceremony with a few remarks. He said that Jones’ house is probably the first all-Catholic Habitat house in the Greenville area and then added, “We’d certainly like to do this again.”
At the time of the dedication, Jones’ home was nearly finished — the paint was fresh that day.
The only major task left is installation of flooring. Jones should be able to move into her home the first week in December.
Jones has five grown children and has been approved to adopt a little girl. She hopes she will have her new daughter soon after moving into her home.