May 5th dawned cold and overcast, but the weather could not dampen the spirits of those gathered at a new house on White Rock Road in Pinnacle.
Folks were gathered there for the dedication of the latest Stokes County Habitat for Humanity home, the new residence of Jennifer Sneed and sons Jacob, 8, and Preston, 12. Sneed grew up in King and will now live in nearby Pinnacle.
While it is nice to have a new home, Sneed told everyone what means the most to her: “My children will always have a home to live in.”
“I’m happy people built this house for us,” said 8-year-old Jacob as people toured his new home.
Preston, who enjoys playing sports, said he was most excited about the large back yard. Jacob showed off his new bedroom and said he may want to paint dinosaurs on the walls.
The dedication began at 3 p.m. that Sunday afternoon with a short ceremony on the porch and front lawn. Ron Davis, executive director of Stokes Habitat, welcomed everyone.
“We’ve been looking forward to this,” noted Davis.
Elaine Calloway, who is in charge of family nurture for the organization, introduced the Sneed family. She joked, “Stokes County is a small place … Everybody you meet is related to someone you know.”
Calloway said of Jennifer Sneed, “She is such a deserving person … It’s just a real treat to get to know her.”
D.K. Smith, board chairman, thanked all the board members present. “Our board is a working board,” he said. “There’s a lot of people behind the scenes.”
He said to the Sneed family, “We’ve built a house, but now it’s up to you. You can make it a home.”
Davis, noting that Habitat is a faith-based organization, read a few psalms. Lou Charland, volunteer coordinator, delivered the invocation. Charland said it brought back memories of the first house Habitat dedicated in October 2001.
Members of the crowd then participated in a responsive reading about the dedication of the home. Steve Gravitt, a member of the building committee, presented Jennifer Sneed with a Bible and a key to the house.
Dr. Arnold Hence concluded the ceremony by offering a benediction. He said, “Even on this cloudy day, it’s a sunny day.”
Sneed spoke up to offer her appreciation. She said, “I just want to say how thankful me and my children are.”
People then toured the house and property, which includes a large back yard bordering a creek.
Sneed said it was relieving to have the house now complete because the process can be stressful for a mother trying to work and raise two young sons. Habitat families are required to work a set amount of hours to help build their homes. They put in “sweat equity.” But Sneed said that makes the home even more special, to know that she put her own blood, sweat and tears into it.
More than anything, Sneed is glad that her children “will always have a roof over their heads.” She said that when you rent or live with someone you could be forced to leave at any time.
Jennifer’s grandmother Isabelle Boyles attended the ceremony. She remarked, “It’s just real nice.”
She said of Jennifer, “She’s just working hard and making things go for two boys … I’m just thankful the Lord’s worked it out for them.”
Chairman D.K. Smith said, “It’s just really nice to help a really deserving family.”
He said Jennifer Sneed worked hard to make the home a reality. “It’s a blessing for us to be able to do this,” said Smith.
Work began on the home in the fall with a building blitz. The Stokes Habitat group tries to do one Habitat build per year, and building projects have taken place across the county over the past decade.
Smith explained that it can be difficult to find families that qualify for the homes. There is a minimum and maximum income limit. It is not a handout. Families still have to pay a mortgage for the home, but Habitat makes loans available to them at zero interest, which adds up to a large savings over time.
Davis said, “It’s a pleasure to work for an organization that helps deserving families get affordable, adequate homes.”