Habitat hike raises funds to help build county homes
By Steve Herring
Published in News on April 3, 2011 1:50 AM
Of the more than 500 people who attended the second annual Hike for Humanity at Stoney Creek Park, the charity has a special place in the hearts of Ariyanna, 2, and her mother Brenda, because they soon will be homeowners thanks to Habitat for Humanity.
Participants in Saturday's second annual Hike for Humanity at Stoney Creek Park may have thought they were just having a good time on a breezy spring day, but they were actually working to help build a new home for Edwin Ortiz Jr., his wife Jessica, and their two sons, Daylan, 4, and Isaiah, 3.
The Ortizes were among the hundreds of people at the park for what Wayne County Habitat for Humanity executive director Tieshia Moore called a day of family fun -- with a purpose.
"We always try to fund houses with this event, so this year's goal is $15,000 and we are going to get close to that because of the public support and the sponsors on the back end of the event," she said. "The hikers helped and almost everything here today was donated by somebody. We are grateful that it stopped raining two day ago and that the temperatures are in the 60s.
"We had a ton of walk-ups (for the hike). We probably had at least 150 walkers this year. Anytime we can pull the community together and help the community understand Habitat, especially from a young age, we are happy."
The remainder of the funding for the house will come from federal grants and other sources, she said.
"Last year we did the hike through the back of Stoney Creek Park," she said. "This year we wanted to make it a fun hike so that all people of all body types and athletic abilities could do it.
"The other thing was that we really made sure this family fun day was a true family fun day, so we went into the school system and asked principals if we could dunk them in our dunk tank. We went to churches and said, 'Can we dunk the youth pastor? Can we dunk the children's pastor?' -- just things that would be really fun and family friendly because we want to make sure that is the image that we portray."
Activities included entertainment, shaved ice, food, a dunking booth, inflatable bounce houses and a play area for children that included miniature golf, a duck pick up.
One of the more popular areas, with adults as well as children, was the sumo wrestling where people donned large padded suits to wrestle each other.
Ground will be broken within the next two weeks for the Ortiz home that will be built on Ben Brewington Street in the Harris Estates area.
"It is just so good to know that the community is so involved and that they understand what Habitat is about," Ortiz said. "It is kind of surprising to know that are still people who do not about Habitat and what it does. We are happy to be here."
Ortiz is very familiar with the program -- his mother, aunt and some of her friends, all live in Habitat houses in Wayne County.
"I helped build my aunt's (house), my mother's and some of the others as well," he said. "Just the other day I was painting on a house. You have got to get your hands dirty. Get involved, you have to.
"We are ecstatic. Who doesn't want a house? That is like the dream to own your own house and property. In the long run that is what everybody wants. You just have to be willing to put the hours in and work and pour your heart into it. It is exciting and it is worth it in the end."
Mrs. Ortiz said she already has been looking for items for the house like light fixtures.
Ortiz said the houses "go up pretty quickly" and that hopefully it will be completed so people won't have to "go through all of that hot weather building."
Currently they live with his parents, which is a little cramped, he said.
"It's good to see so many people in this area involved in such a good organization," Mrs. Ortiz said. "These people, I love these people. They are just awesome. To see so many people from Goldsboro and everywhere else just here to help.
"It is such a good cause. Habitat, they are just great people. It is very heart warming to see all of the people out here contributing. It is a good turnout."
Currently there are 43 volunteer-built Habitat houses in Wayne County.
"We are moving towards 50 and we are celebrating 10 years this year," Mrs. Moore said. "So we are really trying to portray the message that we are here and that we are not going anywhere and we really want to keep building houses really aggressively."
Habitat is not a giveaway program, she said.
"It is a mortgage, a zero-percent interest mortgage," Mrs. Moore said. "So it is kind of the greatest deal. We are still selling three-bedroom houses for around $69,000. The city partners with us and a lot of our homeowners will get down payment assistance.
"Our goal is to get families in their homes and pay less than $400 a month for everything -- mortgage, taxes, pest control, insurance, everything. But we don't give them away. People work hard for them. It is a great partnership that the families take on with us for 20 years."
It takes four to six months to build a house, and two more houses should to be completed by the end of June, she said.
"This is a great season for us when it gets nice and warm and sunny," she said. "Right now our (volunteer) wait list to build on the weekends is reaching four weeks in advance, but during the weekdays we can still always use volunteers to help us. We build three days a week, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays."