Sweat Equity = Habitat for Humanity Home

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By David DiPino The Pineapple Contributing Writer On a sweltering summer evening, Herbie and Williana Joseph slid the key into the front door of their brand-new home they helped build with assistance from Habitat from Humanity South Palm Beach, and opened the lock on a dream come true for their family. Led by their son Herkens, 9, a student at Village Academy in Delray Beach, the Josephs recently welcomed the Delray Beach community into their new home on Southwest 12th Avenue. “Thank you for this opportunity you gave my family to live better and more comfortably as a family,” said young Herkens. The Josephs are Haitian immigrants who have poured hours of sweat equity into other Habitat for Humanity home-building projects for three years. This month, they helped place the final touches on their own home. Herbie and Williana will raise their children, Herkens and Thawana, a high school student at Atlantic Community High School in Delray Beach, at the home. They will welcome home their daughter Stherline, a college student at the University of South Florida, later this year. “I’m very happy. My wife and my kids are very grateful for the help in building our house,” said Herbie Joseph. Thawana said she learned a lot during the home-building process and felt great about helping community members in need along the way. “The highlight was volunteering at a local soup kitchen here in Delray Beach,” said Thawana. For Habitat for Humanity South Palm Beach, this was their third home built from scratch this year, two of which have been built in the city of Delray Beach. Habitat for Humanity South Palm Beach has three other homes currently in various stages of construction. They started construction on two additional homes in Delray Beach just last month. Another local family helped make the Joseph home and dream a reality quicker than expected. Gerry and Margaret Kazma gave their son, Mike, and daughter-in-law, Amy, $50,000 for Mike’s 50th birthday to donate to the Joseph home and the Habitat for Humanity project. The donation helped jump-start the funding process. According to Mike Campbell, executive director at Habitat for Humanity South Palm Beach, before a project is started, at least 50 percent of the funding needs to be raised. “This house was sponsored and is in honor of Mike’s father, who made the donation for Mike’s 50th birthday to get the house done,” said Campbell. “It’s a community effort,” said Mike Kazma. “The Joseph family is nice, friendly, humble and great to be around. They have great outgoing kids, a characteristic of these outstanding parents.” Regardless of religion, each family receiving a donated Habitat for Humanity home gets a new bible from the Christian organization. Habitat for Humanity also gave the Joseph family a 30-year, interest-free mortgage. “We have the best interest rate in the country,” joked Campbell. The director of construction for this project, Jeff Vangler, said that during construction, the project relies on volunteers to a great extent in building the homes. “It takes quite a few man hours to finish a home. It’s a combination of special pricing and time from our subcontractors, general public, homeowners and future homeowners that help us get this done,” said Vangler. Helen Bass, a volunteer five days a week for the past six years with Habitat for Humanity, was glad to donate her time on the Joseph home. She and her friends knitted an afghan blanket for the family to use on cooler nights in their home later this year. “This is a very special day for Herbie and his family,” said Bass. “Herbie started with us quite a while ago and he was a very good worker. He would do whatever you wanted. He could lift everything. Herbie always has a smile on his face. He’s one of the happiest people I’ve seen and his son has picked up on that …This is just a very happy family. They earned it, deserve it and I wish them all the best!” she said.