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House dedication is a happy homecoming for Jeannette Trask


Standing on the porch of her new house, Jeannette Trask thanks the volunteers and sponsors who joined her for the house dedication.

(March 10, 2007)—“Thank you, Lord; thank you for blessing me,” said Jeannette Trask, as she stood on the front porch of her brand-new Habitat for Humanity house in New Orleans. To the 75 friends, volunteers and fellow homeowners who stood in the front yard and clapped, she added: “Thank you for coming out and sharing your energy, sweat—and in some cases a little blood—to build this house. A lot of love went into it.”

From the porch of Trask’s house in New Orleans’ Hollygrove neighborhood, you can see derelict and abandoned houses, though the houses nearby are occupied and there’s a thriving church across the street.

“Maybe this new house will give some people hope,” said Brian Wise, Trask’s son in law.

“Jeannette came every week to personally thank the volunteers who were working on her house,” Jim Pate, executive director of New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity told the crowd that had come to celebrate the dedication of Trask’s house. Among them were Don Frampton, representing St. Charles Avenue Presbyterian Church in New Orleans, which coordinated construction teams of faith groups, and John Knowles of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, which sponsored the house. St. Charles Avenue Church partners with Habitat for Humanity, and other local organizations, through its outreach ministry called RHINO—Rebuilding Hope in New Orleans.

Volunteers presented housewarming gifts and blessings to Trask: a Bible, flowers, wine, tools in a toolbox, bread, and the key to her new house.

Alongside volunteers from all over the country, Trask worked on her house and those of others made homeless by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Many of them signed the wooden framing within the walls of her house, and Jeannette says she feels surrounded by their love. While accumulating hours of sweat equity, Trask learned to paint, caulk and install tile.

“I liked caulking; I learned why you need it and where,” said Trask. “Everything I learned prepared me to take care of my house.”

Before Hurricane Katrina, Trask lived in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward.

“It’ll always be a place of memories for me,” she said. “I hope it comes back, but you have to change and go on.”