By John Nolan
Along with St. Barnabas, a neighbor in our community is helping provide opportunities for families to work with Habitat for Humanity to become first-time homeowners.
Ohio National Financial Services is funding a total of 26 Habitat houses through 2021. That is a $1.8 million commitment which has been ongoing in our area since 2009, according to the Montgomery-based company.
Habitat and Ohio National dedicated the 22nd of those homes on Thursday, November 21, in the village of Lincoln Heights. Barbara Turner, president and chief operating officer of Ohio National, spoke at the dedication ceremony inside the house on Jackson Street that Demetria Jones will be buying for herself and her seven children.
Members of the St. Barnabas Outreach Ministry, through the Eastside Coalition of Churches, were among the volunteers who helped build the house. St. Barnabas volunteers installed windows and helped hang vinyl siding, among other tasks.
Ms. Turner said she feels a personal connection to the work in Lincoln Heights. She was born in the village, just a short distance from where Habitat is building a total of six single-family houses along Jackson Street.
Habitat dedicated the first of those houses on November 1. Jordan Lounds helped build that house and plans to buy it. She is to close on the purchase by Christmas.
The house that Demetria Jones will buy is across the street. Volunteers from our Habitat affiliate, the Eastside Coalition, are already building another Habitat home next door.
Ohio National's leadership says it regards its commitment to building Habitat houses as a good way to promote healthy communities, and to give its employees an opportunity to be involved as volunteers.
Numerous other companies donate money, materials or services to help Habitat build, equip, and finish houses. They include Schutte Stair Co., Whirlpool Corp., Procter & Gamble Co., Valspar Paints, Square D, and Molloy Roofing Co.
Demetria Jones has been busy not only raising her family and putting in her required total of 250 "sweat equity" hours with Habitat (as a down payment on what will be a no-interest mortgage), but she has been working overtime at her regular day job to prepare for home ownership, according to Helen Spieler, a homeowner services manager for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Cincinnati. Families committed to becoming first-time homeowners through Habitat face a challenging, months-long journey as they work on their future homes and take Habitat-required classes to get ready for home ownership. That is in addition to the parents' obligations to their own jobs and their children. Habitat volunteers will be kept busy for awhile in Lincoln Heights. Village officials recently invited Habitat to return, after the nonprofit organization built other houses there years ago. The goal is to bring new housing stock and residents to the community along Interstate 75.