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Habitat continues rebuilding families’ lost homes

Briana Harris

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For Markedia Wells, the dream of home ownership became a reality on June 29 as she received the keys to her new home. A crowd of nearly 50 people gathered outside of Wells’ new home on 7th Street East as she cut the red ribbon that hung across her front door.

Wells lost her previous home during the April 27 tornadoes. She and her two sons, Javaris Wells-Barnes, 7, and Jalex Wells-Barnes, 5, were at home when the catastrophic EF-4 tornado blew through Tuscaloosa and the surrounding areas. She and her sons took refuge in their activity room as the tornado ravaged their home.

Now, Wells and her two sons have found joy in a new home.

Wells is one of the four Tuscaloosa residents to receive a house from Habitat for Humanity and their sponsors, State Farm and Major League Baseball, through the Players Trust.

“Getting this house means the world to me,” she said. “This house wasn’t just given to me. It is something that I have worked hard for and will be paying for.”

Habitat for Humanity has completed 13 homes and has served, or is in the process of serving, 34 families in the Tuscaloosa area, said Habitat for Humanity’s Volunteer and Partnership Director Jared Patterson.

Nine homes have been donated since the April 27 tornadoes through the Player’s Trust. Four of those nine homes went to Habitat Tuscaloosa, and five went to Joplin Area Habitat.

“Major League Baseball, State Farm and the Players Trust have been fantastic partners through this process and just wanted to show their support and rebuild homes, as well as hope, in these communities,” Patterson said.

State Farm is honored to continue to be a part of the rebuilding and healing process of Tuscaloosa, said Emily Clark, State Farm public affairs specialist.

“Strong neighborhoods are the backbone of a vibrant, thriving community,” Clark said. “Our long-term partnership with Habitat programs helps us fulfill our commitment to build strong communities.”

Habitat for Humanity’s sponsors are not the only people willing to lend a hand in the rebuilding process. Groups of volunteers came from as far as Indiana, Ohio and even Ireland to help build Wells’ home.

“I never would have thought in a million years that this many people would be so willing to help,” Wells said. “One group came all the way from Ireland, and it is just amazing.”

Over 4,500 volunteers have worked with Habitat for Humanity since July 5, 2011.

By the end of the summer, Habitat for Humanity will have hosted three international teams from Ireland, Korea and the United Emirates.

“We have had so many wonderful people come to Tuscaloosa to volunteer and help rebuild our community,” Patterson said. “I am amazed daily by the lengths that people are willing to go to help others.”

With all the help Habitat for Humanity has and will be receiving, they have no plans to slow down any time soon. Those who wish to be considered for Habitat for Humanity’s assistance must attend a home ownership workshop where they will be given an application to fill out. At the workshop, held once a month, they will learn about the process and the necessary criteria and documentation needed to apply for a home.

“It is always a great feeling to be a part of helping someone realize their dream of homeownership and, in this case, to help Ms. Wells and her boys to have a home again after the events of April 27,” Clark said.

Wells said she is immensely grateful for the assistance she has received. She believes none of it would have been possible without God.

“We left the storm,” she said. “We were bumped and we were bruised, but by the grace of God, we were spared. And it is nothing but God that brought this house to us.”

For more information about Habitat for Humanity, go to www.habitattuscaloosa.org.

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Habitat continues rebuilding families’ lost homes