The Harville family -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

The Harville family


Ted Harville still feels pain from an accident seven years ago. He and his wife, Wanda, are thankful to be able to work on their new Habitat house along with their two sons, Joshua and Johnathan.

©Habitat for Humanity International/Ezra Millstein


‘Grateful for the pain’

For Ted Harville, sweating and laboring on a Habitat build site is victory in itself.

Seven years ago, he was working on his parents’ house when he fell from atop a ladder to the concrete below. He woke up in the hospital three days later, yelling for his wife, Wanda. “You didn’t even know you were in this world,” she said.

Harville drifted in and out of consciousness that first week in the hospital. He was in and out of physical rehabilitation for the next year. Today, his broken bones have healed, his scars are less visible, and his memory is once again functioning at a high level.

That doesn’t mean the pain has completely left his body, but that’s OK with him.

“I’m grateful for the pain I do feel, because I know guys who are in wheelchairs, who are paralyzed from similar things,” he said. “So I thank God for the pain I can feel. I may not like it, but I’m thankful I can feel it.”

On an August Saturday morning in Birmingham, the entire Harville family worked on the foundation of their new Habitat house, one of 10 new homes that will be completed with the help of volunteers during the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project. Habitat for Humanity Greater Birmingham will also lead volunteers in rehabbing eight homes and repairing another 10.

“I always wanted to build my own home,” Harville said. “I’m so grateful to Habitat to have the opportunity to do this.”

He knows he may have never had the chance to get back on a work site without the support of family and friends. “My wife was always there for me,” he said. “She left her job to take care of me, and then she had to start all over. I mean, she had to help me with everything!”

Ted and Wanda met when they were both attending More Than Conquerors Church. Wanda invited Ted to a baseball game, and “from that day, I knew she was the one,” he said.

Wanda Harville is back at work now, as an administrative assistant for the Jefferson County Commission. Her husband has been working on his sweat-equity hours, even mowing the grass at Habitat Greater Birmingham’s office, which is just down the street from the family’s future home. In his spare time, he enjoys gardening and listening to jazz.

Harville hasn’t completely won his sons over to big-band jazz, but he still has some time. Two of their three sons still live at home: Joshua, 18, and Johnathan, 17. Joshua plays football for Wenonah High School and hopes to be a dentist. Johnathan attends Restoration Academy, which is within walking distance of the family’s new Habitat home. He wants to be a veterinarian.

“We have fun with our sons,” Harville said. “And we’re enjoying this new experience together, all of us working on this home as a family.”

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter will help with the construction of the Harville house—a “historic moment for us,” Harville said. It’s something the Harvilles say they will fully appreciate once they are in that completed house.

“Having a place of our own, being first-time homebuyers, the main thing is just the stability that comes with it,” Wanda Harville said. “We have a place to be rooted.”