Every day was a struggle…
In their old rental house, Jonell Gorman constantly worried about her multi-handicapped son Chris. In the winter, his wheelchair would roll into the exposed space heater they used for warmth. In nicer weather, Jonell could not allow Chris outside to enjoy the fresh air for fear he would slide down the steep incline of the ramp used to enter their house. Year-round she feared he would accidentally turn on the stove or oven and hurt himself, or even start a fire. Day-to-day tasks like bathing Chris were nearly impossible. The doorway into their bathroom was too small for his wheelchair, so Jonell, a slight woman in her 60s, literally had to drag her son, weighing more than 200 pounds, through the hallway and into the bathtub.
Each day was a struggle, and subsisting on their Social Security benefits, the Gormans had little hope of affording a more suitable place for Chris to live.
Then Jonell heard about Habitat for Humanity, and after she applied to partner and learned she had been approved, she found out she would be part of the 2003 Jimmy Carter Work Project (JCWP) in Anniston, Ala.
But the effects of the Jimmy Carter Work Project reached much further. In Anniston alone, a neighborhood of 35 houses the Wellborn Manor subdivisionwas built in the course of a week. In the other JCWP 2003 sites of LaGrange, Ga., and Valdosta, Ga., a combined 57 more houses were built. All three cities are certified 21st Century Challenge communities, meaning they have set a date by which to eliminate all substandard housing in their neighborhoods. In progress toward this goal, the West Anniston Revitalization Project was under way concurrently with the JCWP. The project saw 23 blighted houses renovated and one additional new house built by volunteers from throughout the Anniston community.
Anniston has pledged to eliminate substandard housing by 2020; so, in the coming years, the community must build or repair approximately 1,500 houses. Doing so will benefit not only those 1,500 individual families, but also the community as a whole.
As communities come together to eliminate substandard housing, businesses, churches, civic groups, governmentsall facets of societycome together. This cooperation and collaboration often translate into other arenas. Longer-term benefits of the commitment to decent housing include increased tourism; more jobs; stronger educational performance from children, including better grades and attendance; improved health; and lower crime rates.