GAINESVILLE – Traditionally, most people look beneath the Christmas tree to find their gift; in the case of Sha and Ariana Cheeks they look at what surrounds the tree to see theirs: a new three-bedroom home.
Team members with Habitat for Humanity of Hall County greeted arriving friends and family members to the dedication of the Cheek’s new home, the newest house on Tall Pine Way in the Copper Glen Subdivision, handing them blue paper booties as “the weather outside was frightful” and the ceremony had to be moved indoors.
Habitat Hall leaders quickly point out the fact that the houses they construct are not given away; they are earned. Thom Price, Habitat Hall board chairman, said, “In November of 2015 I met Sha building (another) house…it’s a long process; it’s a major commitment.”
“I had to volunteer a total of 260-hours,” Sha said of her undertaking. “You’ve got to work hard for it (and) I still have a mortgage to pay. I think people appreciate it more…they take care of it (the house) more when they have to work for it.”
Sha said she learned of Habitat’s housing program from a friend. “At first I was hesitant about it but I thought I would check it out just to see. I went for the orientation and filled out the application and to my surprise I was approved. I was so excited.”
“They did say it was not going to be a quick fix - that it was going to take a while,” Sha said of her 25-month journey to home ownership.
Ariana is Sha’s daughter and she said she had her bedroom picked out and knew exactly how she wanted to decorate it.
Sha said family members would be helping her to move furniture later in the day, but one of the first things she was planning to move into the empty house was a Christmas tree.
“Probably right there on that wall,” she said pointing to a corner of the living room, “so when you come in you can see it.”
“We are so blessed; we’re beyond blessed,” Sha said, hugging Ariana tightly and wiping away a tear.
“I want to thank Habitat for opening up their hearts; the volunteers for making this dream of mine and Ariana become possible…thank you again.”