Temeca Shephard sat on the couch in her living room surrounded by her four children and talked about how Habitat changed her life following a dedication ceremony at her home on County Road 402.
“This hasn’t been easy and it has been a lot of hard work,” said Shephard. “Every time there was a problem the people at Habitat helped me find a solution. I can’t believe how it has all come together.”
Shephard spoke briefly of how she was living in a trailer that wasn’t in the best of shape and how the storm of April 2011 heavily damaged that. She talked of finding out about Habitat for Humanity and submitting the paperwork and waiting patiently as that process, the planning of her home, the construction and finally moving in unfolded around her.
“So many people in this community out here helped us build this house,” said Shephard. “This is more than just my house, this is a house my family and friends out here have helped us build.”
Several churches in eastern Chickasaw County and countless volunteers showed up weekend after weekend to help with dirtwork, pour concrete, frame the house, put on the roof and paint.
And Houston Habitat for Humanity coordinator Birdie Burdine said this is how Habitat is supposed to work.
“These houses are not free and Temeca and her family have worked with us to make this happen,” said Burdine. “Habitat is not a handout, but rather a hand up. Temeca and her family have shown us how Habitat can change lives, bring communities together and improve our world one home at a time.”
Shephard submitted paperwork more than a year ago to the Family Selection Committee of Houston Habitat for Humanity. Her application was one of several the local chapter had on file.
Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing ministry that has helped to build thousands of decent, affordable houses across the country and worldwide. The Houston chapter is part of this organization and works in the community to build and rehabilitate houses.
Rev. Randy Rinehart, President of Houston Habitat for Humanity, pointed to a plaque over the front door of Shephard’s home with the verse from Joshua 24:15 that said, “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
“This really is a ministry,” said Rinehart. “A lot of people have worked and prayed for this and God has blessed this ministry and will continue to bless you and your family as long as you put Him first.”
Rinehart urged Shephard to tell others of how she has been blessed and to continue to help Habitat help others.
Houston Habitat for Humanity will now look to begin another home project in the community.
Contrary to popular belief, Habitat for Humanity does not give away houses. Every Habitat family makes house payments and buys their home. Habitat houses are sold to partner families at no profit and financed with low interest loans.
“The goal is to make these houses affordable to families,” said Burdine. “The money our Habitat families pay in monthly mortgage payments is used to build still more Habitat houses in and around Houston.”
And there is also “sweat equity” where each Habitat family is required to literally work to build their home. Typically churches and volunteers come alongside the family and help with this labor.
Shephard was fortunate to have her father donate land for her house in eastern Chickasaw County. Water and electricity service were also readily available.
“I grew up out here and used to stand where the house is now and dream of owning a home and having my children around me,” said Shephard. “Once I got started with Habitat I came over here and prayed on this spot.
“So much was going on in my life when I started,” said Shephard. “I can’t believe how it has all come together.”
Shephard urged young couples, the elderly and single parents to contact Houston Habitat for Humanity at 456-5757 and ask for an application.
“The people with Habitat have helped me spiritually, emotionally and most of all, economically,” said Shephard. “They made my dream come true.”