BY LIZ MARINO STAFF WRITER
(Pictured left: A group of employees from Stallings Insurance in Douglasville came out Saturday morning to begin framing of the first of eight Habitat for Humanity homes for veterans. Stallings Insurance is one of the sponsors and brought members of its staff to support Habitat.The first Veterans Place house is expected to be completed and dedicated by the end of July. From left, is owner Melissa Stallings, Holly Quinn, Autumn Quinn, Delores Lauderdale and Amber Quinn.)
United States Marine Corps veteran Lester Roberson said he is blessed to be given the opportunity for a new life in a new home. The Saginaw, Michigan, native served as a warehouseman in the Marines until he was medically discharged and has made Douglas County his home for the past six years.
He joined with some "veteran" Habitat for Humanity volunteers and some first time novices who teamed together Saturday morning to hammer the "first nail" in the first of eight homes for senior veterans which has been aptly named "Veterans Place" located off Chicago Avenue in Douglasville.
The street upon which the houses will be built has been appropriately named "Military Way."
The organization's vision is "A world where everyone has a decent place to live."
David McGinnis, NW Metro Atlanta Habitat President and CEO, led the staff and volunteers in a word of prayer before the framing began. He also explained Habitat's mission of seeking to put God's love into action, Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities and hope, which it does through its core principles, demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ.
This home is the first of two houses that will be built this year. Plans call for eight homes to be built over four years. Veterans Place is located on four acres which NW Metro Habitat purchased in 2016 from the Douglas County Housing Authority.
This is the first all-veteran neighborhood in Georgia, according to McGinnis.
“Out of 1,300 affiliates nationwide, we are one of two affiliates embarking on a military-only neighborhood," he said. "We are proud to help offer the strength, stability and self-reliance of homeownership to the American heroes who put their lives on the line for us.”
Volunteers will work for nine consecutive Saturdays alongside the homeowner, with an expected completion date by the end of July.
Longtime Douglasville resident and business owner Leslie Choo is the Habitat project's house leader. He said this was the 18th house he has helped build with Habitat for Humanity.
Volunteering with Habitat is near and dear to his heart. After graduating from the University of Georgia in 1982, Choo became a police officer with the city of Atlanta, where he worked in housing projects for four years. It was this experience that gave him a new perspective on life, he said.
Another long-time Habitat volunteer is Jimmy Haddle, who is working on his 20th home this year. However, for Rick Cowan, a veteran and member of American Legion Post 145 in Douglasville, this is his first time volunteering to help build a Habitat home.
"This is local," he said, "and we want to support our veterans. This is one way to do it."
Melissa Stallings, owner of Stallings Insurance in Douglas County, is one of the sponsors that made the construction of the home possible. She brought out a team of employees — all female — ready to work Saturday morning.
This was not Stallings' first Habitat experience.
"I had experience from my childhood," she said. "I did a Women's Build in high school. I have a passion for Habitat."
Sponsors include The Home Depot Foundation, Lockheed, Cato Fashions, St. John Vianney Catholic Church and St. Theresa Catholic Church, Hamilton State Bank, Stallings Insurance, First Presbyterian Church of Douglasville, the Douglasville-Douglas County Water and Sewer Authority and John and Vikki Hughes of Marietta.
Tentative plans for the home's dedication are July 28. All interested volunteers should contact NW Metro Atlanta Habitat for Humanity at 770-432-7954 ext. 104 or go to https://nwmetroatlantahabitat.org to register for the Douglasville Veterans Place build.