Habitat blitz erects two homes, hosts one marriage ceremony
By Ty Johnson
Published in News on May 7, 2012 1:46 PM
Argo Cesareo helps put up a wall Saturday at Blitz Build Wayne County. Volunteers worked through the weekend to put the frames for two Habitat for Humanity homes near Pikeville.
Eric Fales, left, kisses Catherine Fales on Saturday during their wedding at the Habitat for Humanity build near Pikeville on Saturday. The Habitat volunteers, who are from Virginia, met on the Internet and decided to exchange vows on a build site.
PIKEVILLE -- The work site is on a dead-end appendix off of a suburb just south of Gurley Dairy Road. It's set up against a forest of untamed briars and undergrowth attempting to choke hundreds of trees.
But beneath Saturday's unforgiving sun it was a bustling site with dozens of volunteers nailing, cutting, lifting and assembling. After the saws and hammers stop, that block of Pantego Place near Pikeville will be remembered as the place where three families got a fresh start.
The bride wore a custom-ordered medium Gilden Ultra Cotton T-shirt with a bridal dress graphic on the front. Her shorts were denim Tommy Hilfiger and her shoes were Carbotec steel-toed boots.
Eric Fales stood beside two dumpsters filled with discarded building materials from the Habitat for Humanity Blitz Build which were set just feet from four portable toilets lining the edge of the site.
Fales only participated in his first build a year before, but, according to his fiancee, Catherine Jones, he just "got it."
"And then I knew," she said Saturday, adding that those in her Habitat group, the Habitat Road Trip Crazies, call it "feeling the feeling."
She had been involved with Habitat for decades dating back to her experience in a church youth group, where she met Tom Gerdy, who founded the Crazies, a group of Habitat enthusiasts from across the country who swarm to Habitat build sites three to four times a year to help build homes.
She told Gerdy, who is an ordained minister, that she wanted him to marry the two at the Pikeville build, and during a lunch break, with two partially finished homes as the backdrop and a homemade nail apron holding her bouquet, Ms. Jones became Mrs. Fales.
Just feet away, two wooden structures loomed. By the end of the weekend, they would appear finished from the street, with only interior work remaining.
Cheree Williams, 28, was hammering away on the structure, which soon will be where she and her son will call home.
The weekend, Ms. Williams said, never seemed like it would arrive.
"It's overwhelming because when I first started with Habitat, I didn't see this weekend."
Her soon-to-be neighbor, Michelle Hamilton, 43, shared Ms. Williams' disbelief.
"I didn't think I would get selected," she said. "When I heard, I just cried. I'm speechless today."
Ms. Hamilton will share her home with her daughter -- a home that she helped build herself out of sweat, nails and siding.
And that will benefit the two endlessly, Ms. Williams said.
As they pay their houses off through a down payment and monthly mortgage payments, they'll also be able to maintain their homes more efficiently, she said, simply because they know how it's done.
"We can make sure everything's done right," she said, adding that the benefits of Habitat went far deeper than simply giving her somewhere to live. "Before this I had no idea how to build a house."
Ms. Hamilton struggled to find the words to express her feelings, rattling them off like a laundry list of emotion: mushy, warm, speechless, overwhelmed, blessed.
But looking around at those gathered to help make something happen in her life that otherwise would have been impossible, in the end, she found the right word.
"Thankful," she said.