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Dorchester Habitat for Humanity’s 69th home

Tamika Quattlebaum will become the proud new homeowner of Dorchester Habitat for Humanity’s 69th home in the beginning of the New Year. This is an accomplishment for many reasons but at the center is still the core of our mission, to provide hope for a hardworking family who needs a decent and affordable housing.

Originally from Ridgeville, Tamika has 4 children ages 22, 16, 14 and 8 and one grandson who is 3 years old. Her oldest daughter will soon begin veterinarian school in Georgia or North Carolina. Family is the biggest motivator for Tamika to save and build her future home.

“I really look forward to having more family time in my own place,” she said. “But I also want to better support my family financially, it’s really a struggle when you’re living check to check.”

Tamika has loved all the construction experience and meeting volunteers and team members while working on her sweat-equity hours.

“It really is rather fun to learn this new skill,” she laughed. “I love it!”

She is most excited about decorating her new home for Christmas one day.

“I love Christmas trees and lights,” she said. “Decorating with my kids will be so special for me.”

Please contact us if you would like to take part in this momentous build for Dorchester Habitat, meet Tamika or find out when her home dedication will be.


Bringing People Together with the Charleston SC Homeownership Program

The dream of homeownership is near the top of the list priorities for many American citizens. With homeownership comes a sense of belonging, security, and a place that you can truly call your own. Across the USA there are many different housing programs that are helping people to take the first step into homeownership. One of those programs is the Charleston SC Homeownership Initiative.

Charleston has a very diverse population, and one of the key objectives of the Homeownership Initiative is that it brings together many people from a wide range of different economic backgrounds. By doing this, the initiative helps many local residents to realize the dream of homeownership and puts them into a position where they can get themselves on the housing ladder for the first time. What is this program exactly, however?

The Charleston SC Homeownership Program

Back in December 2000, the city of Charleston put in place a new program that would help local residents to overcome the barriers of being able to purchase their own home. The new program that was put in place was called the Charleston Homeownership Initiative Redevelopment Plan. Out of this plan came the Homeownership Initiative (HI) program.

One of the key areas that the Homeownership Initiative program aimed to look at was the imbalance within the city between the rising cost of housing in the downtown area of Charleston and the low household incomes that were preventing people from being able to buy a home and that was effectively pricing them out of certain areas of the city.

It was the Mayor of the city that decided that it was time to address this imbalance and took their frustration to the City Council who they challenged to develop a new program to address this issue. As the Mayor set out their aims, there were three main objectives that were laid out that the plan must address which were:

> To develop a plan that would be targeted at proving resident that was on low and moderate incomes with affordable housing

> To address the issues with some of the cities more run-down and deprived neighborhoods by revitalizing these areas

> To help local non-profit organizations to increase their capacity

Program Overview

The types of houses that are available for purchase under the Charleston Homeownership Program are a mixture of brand-new homes and older homes that have been rehabilitated. The program is live across five different neighborhoods in the Charleston area, which include Elliottborough, Cannonborough, the East Side, the West Side and H, F, and I streets and the Rosemont Community.

The way that this program works is that homes are acquired by the City of Charleston and are then transferred to different non-profit house organizations. These charitable organizations then invest in developing properties so that they are fit to be inhabited and resold the local residents who have applied to be part of the program. It allows the homes to be resold for an affordable amount to low- and moderate-income families and bring a mix of people together of different economic backgrounds in these target areas.

Charleston Incomes

To understand why programs like this need to be put in place, it is useful to understand the range of incomes that the residents of Charleston are receiving and the gap between the highest and the lowest. The incomes for different households vary greatly depending on the size of household and which part of the city the household resides in. Some of the figures that came out of the report are:

>For a household of 1, an extremely low income is around $16,350 compared to the upper income in other areas of $81,900.

> Potentially the most surprising and the most significant gap can be found in a household of 4 where the extremely low income is estimated to be at $23,350, the median is measured at around $77,900, and the highest figure is $116,850.

These figures have been used to calculate the different limits for different housing initiatives in the area. The target households for the program are ones that are earning between 50% and 120% of the area median income, which is $77,900 for a household of 4.

Charleston SC Homeownership Program Requirements

To be eligible to apply for inclusion in the Charleston Homeownership Program, there are a number of different requirements that need to be met. These range from background checks to income guidelines. The following criteria are set out by the program as defined by the Charleston City Council.

> None of the applicants may have owned a home previously (or within the past three years). They must be a first-time homebuyer.

> The house that is to be purchased through the program must be the residents’ primary residence and not a second home or a holiday home.

> All applicants for the program must pass a background check.

> It is vital that applicants are in a position to be able to apply for and are eligible to get the required mortgage on the property.

> One of the most important requirements is that the household income must not be above guidelines published by the HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development).

Creating a Diverse Community with the Charleston SC Homeownership Program

The Charleston SC Homeownership Program was created to bring people together, and it works hard to achieve this goal. People from a range of diverse economic backgrounds are given the opportunity to be able to purchase their own home and enjoy the security and joy that homeownership brings to their lives.

The work that the Charleston SC Homeownership Program does is vital to ensure that communities are made up of all different types of people and that every area of the city continues to thrive. Rising housing costs that do not reflect the lower rise in income is a critical factor that stops people from being able to purchase their own home. Regardless of household income, this program aims to ensure that everyone, should they want to can buy their own home in Charleston.

Reborn: How to restore outdated furniture

Benefits to Restoring Old Furniture

There are many benefits to restoring old furniture: it’s good for the planet, it’s often cheaper than buying a full set of brand-new pieces, and you can make use of old varnishes and paint. Investing time in a project can be hugely gratifying when you see the final product sitting in your living room and kitchen. Being able to claim that you were the one that got it to its current glory is always a boost to your self-esteem. Before you start getting out the sheets of sandpaper, what are the best methods for restoring outdated furniture?

Firstly: what can you save?

The first step you need to take towards overhauling your old furniture is to take a look at what you’ve currently got. Old bookshelves, wooden chairs, and tables are perhaps some of the easiest items to restore. On the other hand, a large 70s sofa that’s covered in brown velvet might be a bit too challenging – unless you have the skills to reupholster it. Wooden items are some of the easiest to renovate as you can sand them before painting. Metal and plastic items can be a bit more challenging, as the paint has a tendency to peel and fall off.

If you don’t own a vast amount of outdated furniture, this is a good opportunity to go to second-hand store shopping. Searching ‘ second-hand furniture Charleston’, for example, will find you plenty of local thrift stores. Going through thrift stores to find out what can be salvaged is a great way of finding cheap items to get your hands on.

Protect yourself

Restoring old furniture is a much more monumental task than re-painting an old windowsill. The process of stripping and painting can generate strong fumes from various chemicals – not to mention an abundance of dust. It doesn’t matter whether you are working by yourself or as a team: before you start, put on eye protection, dust masks and cover your hands and arms. Ideally, work in an open area or at the very least make sure it is well-ventilated by opening all of the windows. Keeping all strong chemicals away from your body while working is not only crucial for your health but will also eliminate any risk of needing to rush to the emergency room halfway through your project!

Clean the furniture

Cleaning your furniture first will not only prevent any lumps and bumps from appearing as you work, but it will also make life much easier for when you start sanding. Depending on what the item is, you might just need a wash down with some soapy water. However, for tougher grime or wax, you might need a specialized cleaner or a spirit to cut through the grease.


If your piece of furniture had hit the outdated pile as a result of general wear and tear, then don’t panic. Some dents, scratches, and breaks are actually very easy to repair – you just need some patience and time.

  • Broken leg: If you have a table with a leg that is susceptible to snapping every now and then, you will be pleased to know that fixing it is easier than you might suspect. You will need to re-break the fracture in order to get the glue into the right place. Then, using a glue that is right for the material (probably wood) apply a liberal amount. Squeeze the two parts together and solidify the position using a clamp. Remember to wipe off any excess glue that bursts out of the sides – as this will look unsightly.
  • Scratches and dents: Using a type of fixing putty is the best way of fixing dents. Using a small, sharp object to remove any dust or grit, fill in the gap with putty and wait for it to dry. Then, sand it down. This is perfect for going underneath the paint and other finishes.

Wooden furniture

Once you have cleaned the furniture, it’s time to get it ready for painting. If the item you are working with is covered in paint, you will need to use a coarse-grit piece of sandpaper or a sander. This not only prevents the paint from peeling but also gives you a nice new surface to work from. Alternatively, if there’s barely anything on the wood at all, you will need to use a fine-grit piece of paper, just to give the new layers of paint something to stick to. After that, it’s a matter of putting down a primer first and then layering the coats of paint until you have the desired effect. Remember to allow each coat to dry first – this is where having a well-ventilated room or area comes in handy.

Before you get on with painting the furniture, it’s a good idea to mix the paint first. When you pop open the lid, you may notice a color difference, or that there has been some separation in the tin. Mixing it first is also important for getting a consistent color throughout the process. Make sure that as you start applying it, you are in a well-lit area. This helps you judge how many coats are needed and whether you are happy with the shade you have chosen.

One last piece of advice when painting wood: buy new brushes if your current ones are looking a little ratty. There is nothing that will frustrate you more than constantly having to pick out bristles from your paintwork as you go along. It’s a good idea, too, to pick a brush that is the right size for the job. If you have more space to work on, then do invest in a larger brush. By searching ‘upcycle Charleston,’ you will fill find plenty of places ready to help you restore pieces of furniture, including projects such as ReStore Charleston. However, it can be just as rewarding to get stuck into an upcycling project yourself. Learning how to sand down a piece of furniture and give it a new lease of life can leave you feeling proud and fulfilled – not to mention the benefit of having a piece of furniture that feels virtually brand new.

Dorchester Habitat for Humanity’s 65th Homeowner

Jessica Nelson – 65th Homeowner

Jessica Nelson has been dreaming of this moment for 5 years. Walking onto a yard that is hers with a front porch to watch the birds, sun streaming through the trees and neighbors who stop by to welcome her to the area. Jessica is Dorchester Habitat for Humanity’s 65th Homeowner who will live in the blue home at 204 Lake Drive in Summerville along with her 11 year old son and 8 year old daughter.

“I want my son to learn how to use a lawnmower, and have the freedom to play outside with other kids,” she said. “My kids are so excited to have their own grass, I brought them here and all they could do is stare at it.”

Jessica thanks her grandmother for the lasting experiences she had growing up that she now wants to share with her children.

“My grandmother raised me from three weeks old, my mother gave me to her,” she said. “She died in 2014 but I know she’s here in spirit and is proud of all I’ve accomplished. Thanks to her I grew up in a house where I had my own bed and yard, but at our apartment the kids are always starting fights or picking on each other.  I told myself that it’s time to look for something better because I don’t want my kids to grow up thinking it’s okay to fight.”

Jessica worked to clear up her credit score before beginning the 425 sweat equity hours required by the homeownership program. She was able to complete these hours at the construction site and in the ReStore thanks to her manager at East Coast Bedding who let her be flexible with her schedule. She tries to set an example for her kids with the hard work she’s put into building this home.

“I would use it as motivation for myself but also for them to do well in school and just keep trying,” she said.

Now she feels like it was all God’s timing for her to move into her new home now when she works only a mile away and has formed new habits that help her save money and stay out of debt. Although she didn’t have prior building experience she said she will miss coming out on Saturdays to build with the group.

“The greatest part about it was coming here and working with Bob and everyone else,” she said. “Sometimes they were hilarious and sometimes they were serious. It was a nice family.”


The Robinson Family Story

When God is the Lord of your life, He often asks you to do something that requires a leap of faith. When we agree with God it is easy to take that leap forward. When the request requires us to face a painful truth, we would rather not.

Michael and Tierra Robinson had been saving money for months to purchase a manufactured home from his brother. Finally, they had $3,000, enough to take the next step. Their family of 6 was in desperate need of a new home…. but God had another idea. Michael had taken some money from his brother during a destructive time in his life. God told Michael to give his brother the money and let the idea of the home go…. for now. Miraculously, Michael and Tierra took that leap of faith and put the dream of that home on pause. But when that door closed, another opened, the door of a Dorchester Habitat home.

This was only possible because this couple has built their marriage on the solid rock of Jesus as the cornerstone. They met at The Harvest Center Church on College Park Road. Tierra’s mom’s best friend told her about the church 19 years ago and Michael’s mom had joined the church when he was 19. Michael’s mom and his sister were hoping that attending church might keep him out of trouble. As God would have it, that is exactly what did happen. Michael realized that he needed help fighting his drug addiction and came forward during an altar call that he credits with saving his life. His aunt Darlene played matchmaker and his first date Tierra was at the Waffle House. They were married 3 months later!

Although 7 years of marriage and 4 children have been a blessing, things have not been easy. As many husbands do, Michael thought that he was the head of the household and that Tierra should ‘tow the line’. On the other hand, Tierra became resentful and angry with the responsibility of motherhood and stretched finances. Again, the Holy Spirit and their faith came to the rescue. Instead of a divorce, Michael realized that that his attitude was a problem and Tierra found a mentor in the church to guide her. They asked God to change them and instead of a divorce their marriage grew stronger.

Read More

Dorchester Habitat Welcomes Newest Homeowner!

Rezinda White’s Story; Talking the Talk?  You had Better be Walking the Walk!

You have to walk the walk if you are going to talk the talk.

If we want to set a good example as parents and stand on principals instead of taking the easy way out, this is an absolute truth.  Rezinda White walks the walk and has done so throughout a life of challenges.  Proof of this is apparent in her amazing work history and the legacy she leaves in her children.

It all began where Rezinda was raised in Cottageville.  Her grandparents owned 100 acres and her grandmother and her mother were the first female loggers in South Carolina.  They gave estimates to area landowners to buy their timber and took it to area mills.  When she wasn’t busy wielding her chainsaw and setting a good example for her three daughters, her mother was driving the school bus.  Unfortunately, Rezinda’s father became increasingly abusive to his wife and daughters and her mother had to end her marriage and get a new start.  She quit logging and started painting homes…this is where Rezinda learned one of her first skills: master woodwork and wall painter!

Her life of unique careers continued when she turned 16 and became a school bus driver.  Back then, they would hire teens to drive busses…an unbelievable idea now, considering the huge responsibility involved in maneuvering a 3 ton vehicle bearing priceless (but distracting) children through traffic and other obstacles.  Disruptive youngsters who stood on seats to cause trouble found themselves hanging on for dear life when Rezinda hit the brakes to keep her passengers in order.

After graduating from high school in Walterboro, Rezinda worked at bakeries in the Piggly Wiggly in Summerville and the K-Mart on Rivers Avenue.  It was here that Rezinda began what would be a lifelong career as a talented cake decorator.  She had her first son Brad and met a handsome navy ensign who would sweep her off her feet and off to Florida as a navy wife.  While her husband Joe was out on ships for three months at a time, Rezinda went to work at Kroger…again in the bakery.  Her second son P.J. was born in the hospital…but just barely…she was whisked out of the taxi and in the hospital hallway where out he came!

Rezinda and Joe were married for about 4 years and their third son Justin was born after they moved back to South Carolina.  When she and her husband separated, she moved to Summerville with her three sons for a new start.

The challenge was that they were really starting from scratch; living in a mobile home with just a bed and a TV, they met a ministry team from Riverbend Baptist Church.  The church also had a mobile home in the park set up to support families and get children involved in community outreach.  They invited Rezinda and her family into the fold and eventually Rezinda earned a job as the church secretary and later became the director of their daycare for three years.  This experience with early childhood development gave Rezinda an idea…why not open her own after school program as a 501-C3 classroom?  She teamed up with a landlord who had a building with 4 apartments, got school donations and wrote grants. As a result her ‘Good News’ after school program opened for four and five year olds.

Over the next 10 years, Rezinda set up several after school programs with churches and schools.  She combined earnings from these programs with income from working at grocery stores and for several years also had her own bakery.  Some days she would drive from Ladson in the early morning to work in a grocery store bakery in Mt. Pleasant and rush back to North Charleston to welcome students to her after school program by 3:00.

Rezinda’s creative solutions for providing a living and quality of life for her family proved successful.  Her sons have grown up to be amazing young men.  Could it be that the artistry that she has shown creating cakes for every occasion has been transferred to her sons in different ways?

Here is the irony…  Her oldest son Brad has moved to Australia and is a video game designer with a successful studio.  Her youngest son Justin is an IT expert.  Rezinda is still learning how to use her GPS…she prefers to get good directions written down on paper the old fashioned way!  Her son P.J. is an entrepreneur with a window tinting business.  Some of the best payback from her sons? Two adorable grandchildren!  What did she do as a parent to get such great results?  When asked that question she says “I never let them go to people’s houses that I didn’t know.”  The whole family was also very affected by the Christian love and the relationships they shared at Riverbend Baptist Church during some tough times.

By 2015, Rezinda’s sons were independent young men on different roads to success, but she had not settled down in a home of her own.  She was bouncing around from apartment to apartment when her son Justin invited her to move in with him while they created a strategy to find her a home of her own.  One day she was watching TV and saw a commercial for charitable organization Dorchester Habitat for Humanity.  Her investigation led to her being accepted into their homeownership program and the beginning of a two year process.  Rezinda has been through a five session program to get her finances in order, to repair her credit rating and to save enough money in the bank for her down payment, closing costs and also save an emergency fund.

In November, Rezinda got a call saying funding was secured for her home and she and Justin jumped for joy!  She has been painting houses all her life, so has really enjoyed her volunteer time applying her paint brush talents on the Habitat houses built in recent months with her neighbors Valorie, Latasha and Shirley.

Rezinda cut the ribbon to her new home on Saturday, May 20th alongside her family and sponsor Duncan- Parnell. She is looking forward to finally having a home of her own and a place for those grandchildren to come and play.  She is still baking and after more than 30 years with her reputation as ‘the cake lady’, retirement is not an option.  If you want to be inspired, take some time to volunteer on this home build on a Habitat Home.  Meet the team of faithful volunteers, many of whom show up every Saturday just because they are servant leaders and ask yourself…are you walking the walk?

Our 49th Homeowner! – Natasha Speller

Just a few short weeks before she receives the keys to her new Habitat home on March 8th, Natasha Speller sits down to talk to us about her family and shares her story with the Dorchester Habitat for Humanity community.

Natasha’s experience with Habitat began when a friend, who was a current Habitat homeowner, told her about the program and how to get involved.

The friend, Ms. Denise, told Natasha to simply attend meeting at the Dorchester Habitat for Humanity center off Greyback Road in Summerville, SC. Right away Natasha decided to call habitat to ask how she could not only get involved but also asked how she one day could own a Habitat home of her own. After attending meetings Natasha began to volunteer her time. She did not have a job when she started volunteering but things shortly changed three months later.

Natasha got a job at iQor in North Charleston, and qualified to be a homeowner through the Habitat program. She says that is where her journey to getting a home of her own home started.

Natasha has been in the program for two years volunteering on seven other builds to give others homes, while also volunteering in the Dorchester Habitat office.

Natasha said, “Sometimes things got difficult but in the end everything was well worth it.” She told Habitat the program has helped to better her life in more ways than one, giving her hope for a brighter future.

Being a mother of four, Natasha has wanted nothing more than to own her own home and to give her children a good life in a safe home environment to grown in. Previously Natasha and her four children were living in an apartment but when an intruder broke in to their home. Natasha says, “I needed to find a safer place to raise my children.”

Currently Natasha and her children—Ja’Vonte (14), Toneyae (10), Natiava (7) and Tristeyn (3) are living with her parents. Their situation although tight is only temporary says Natasha, they make the best of their living situation and are happy to be together with family.  Keeping a positive attitude she knows that soon she will have a home to call her own, keeping in mind that all of her hard work, patience, and sacrifices will have paid off.

Natasha and her children are overwhelmed with excitement. Moving in to their new home, only five minutes from her parents home, should be an easy transition she says. They already have furniture for their new home waiting in storage. Natasha is so happy about the entire experience she and her family has had and plans to continue involvement with the Dorchester Habitat for Humanity, volunteering her time when and as much as she can. Natasha thanks the Dorchester Habitat for Humanity for everything that the program has done for her.

“I want to thank Habitat for giving me this opportunity. When I went in to volunteer for Habitat they made me feel like family right off the back. It is a wonderful program and everyone treats you well making everything well worth it.” Not only did she gain a home from Habitat, she gained a family.