Six-year-old Benjamin learned to walk just a month ago, and now he’s walking into his brand new home.
Before this, Christie Sewell, his mother, said the two had always lived with someone else, most recently with her parents.
But now Sewell is was one of five adults who received a home Saturday thanks to Charlotte County Habitat for Humanity’s 2019 Home Builders Blitz, in which construction crews built five homes in five days.
“This is my new house,” Benjamin said, as he tried to corral a crowd of people to his toys, which will later go in his Scooby-Doo-themed playroom.
“I would never be able to own a place on my own,” Sewell said.
Benjamin was born premature at 1 pound, 1 ounce. “It’s taken him a long time to grow,” Sewell said, bringing him home from the hospital after nine and a half months.
The five homes, located on the 18100 block of Spartonvail Avenue in Port Charlotte, went to four single parents, one adult and seven children Saturday.
The new homeowners — Sabrina Ayers, who will live with her daughter Liliana; Mindy Evans; Marco Edmond and his sons Mackenley, Markens and Marvens; Christie Sewell and her son Benjamin; and Nichole Reyes and her daughters Mercedes and Rayana — had to complete roughly 300 hours of volunteer work with Habitat for Humanity to receive their homes.
“It’s a great program,” said Charlotte County Commissioner Bill Truex, who is also the president of Truex Preferred Construction. “It gives them a hand up to certainly have a better option at life and living.”
“She deserves this,” said Benjamin’s aunt, Pat Robison. “(Sewell) has worked her whole life to raise her son.”
The homeowners also completed various financial and planning classes for the program. They will receive down payment assistance, paying less than $500 a month, including taxes, for their mortgages, according to Charlotte County Habitat for Humanity CEO Mike Mansfield.
“If you drove down this street on Monday morning at 7 o’clock, you would’ve seen five slabs on the ground,” Mansfield said. “Now there’s five homes.” The land was donated by the California-based Chen family in 2017, according to Jan Nick, Charlotte County Habitat for Humanity’s development coordinator.
“(This) couldn’t have happened obviously without five builders,” he continued, thanking Ander Jackson Construction, Coastal Property Group of Florida, Florida Premiere Contractors, Harbor Home Builders and Truex Preferred Construction for their participation.
There were 87 companies and subcontractors that donated time, labor or materials to the project. There were also nine establishments, local and chains, that provided food for the workers during the event.
“It was a true team effort,” Truex said.
Though five houses in five days can get stressful and chaotic, “it’s about the end product,” said Erika Kucks, a representative with AmeriCorps who is volunteering with Charlotte County Habitat for Humanity.
“That’s why I did this,” agreed AmeriCorp volunteer Hope Jimenez. “It’s worth it once you realize a family is going to build a home here.”
“Words can’t express the gratitude I feel,” said new homeowner Sabrina Ayers, as she thanked Ander Jackson Construction for her home.
Sewell even teared up talking about how the crew members of Truex Preferred Construction played with Benjamin.
There were also housewarming gifts from local groups and businesses, such as handmade quilts from the Peace River Quilting Guild and plants from the Charlotte County Inmate Plant Program.
For more information about Charlotte County’s Habitat for Humanity, call 941-639-3162.