Four families finally have a home to call their own this holiday season. After more than two years of waiting and 10 months of construction, Kelly Atkin, Michael and Jacque Pasamonte, Joanna Carroll and Joyce Nuckles are moving into their newly constructed homes built by the Payson Area Habitat for Humanity in Longhorn Village.
Three of the new owners are single mothers who could not ask for a better gift to give their children than a roof over their head.
“Oh my gosh, I am jumping out of my skin, it is a total miracle,” Atkin said. “It is God’s handiwork. I never thought I would have a home.”
Atkin turned a housing application into the Payson Area Habitat for Humanity office on the last possible day, Dec. 31, 2006.
“I was sent an application and just sat on it,” Atkin said, “then I decided to just go for it and apply.”
Atkin said she never thought she would be selected out of all the applicants, because she thought someone would need it more.
Atkin, who said she does not make a lot of money in her sales job, is supporting her daughter Sage, 4, with little outside help. She has lived with her parents in town for four years to save up money. All that saving is paying off because Atkin and Sage, along with the other homeowners, started moving into their new homes Dec. 16.
Before each applicant could even think of moving in, each was required to put in several hundred volunteer hours with the organization.
Atkin did various cleaning and work around her new home.
“I was real proud to help,” Atkin said. “It brings the family pride up.”
Sage has already determined she wants to decorate her room with a princess theme and Atkin said she can’t wait to start.
Nuckles, a single mother of three daughters ages 17, 16 and 9, said she also applied for a home two years ago.
“I wanted something of my own,” she said. ‘Right now I live with my parents and it’s crowded!”
Nuckles echoed the sentiment shared by all of the families who feel excited and overwhelmed by owning a home.
“This means a lot to me,” Nuckles said. “I feel very blessed and thank all of the workers who helped.”
Carroll, a single mother of three daughters and one son, also said she feels very blessed.
Carroll said hard times hit several years ago when her ex left her with four kids who have asthma, no money and no car.
It took the persuasion of a good friend, Wendy Ward, to get Carroll to turn in an application to PAHH. Carroll said she was resistant at first, but after two weeks, finally relented to Ward’s wishes.
When Carroll got the news she was selected for a home, she was getting her family ready for church. “I was late getting to church, but I felt elation that I was getting a home that I could afford,” she said.
After Carroll was selected for a home, Ward turned into Carroll’s mentor. A Habitat mentor acts as a liaison between the family and PAHH. Ward, who has eight children of her own, supported Carroll through the whole process.
“Without my mentor, I could not have done it,” Carroll said.
Currently Carroll said most of her disability checks go toward rent.
Carroll is a full-time student at the University of Phoenix studying elementary education. She received a full scholarship and is currently holding down a 4.0 grade point average.
Carroll said she lives in an old home that leaks, causing dampness that further aggravates her children’s allergies, son Austin, 13, twin daughters, Joelle and Erin, 12, and Nikki, 9.
With a new home, Carroll said her children have a safer and healthier environment to grow up in. She has already begun decorating each of the children’s rooms according to their interests.
Austin’s room will have a guitar theme with black and white paint. The girls’ walls are splattered with different colors of paint for an art theme.
“They are jazzed,” Carroll said of her girls’ room. “This is helping establish their identity because they are a part of it, they helped earn it.”
The Pasamontes, who are also receiving a two-story, three-bedroom, two-bath home, have a 6-year-old daughter, Kaitlyn, and 7-year-old son, Michael Jr.
Michael works for Payson Unified School District and Jacque is a stay-at-home mom.
“We have owned homes in the past, so I never thought I would need a home,” Michael said.
When Michael learned his family was picked for a home, he was shocked.
“I thought we hit the raffle or lottery,” he said. “This is an early Christmas present, a miracle. Every day I walk onto the site I think that.”
All of the Pasamontes got involved in the construction process, even son Michael.
“We have done everything,” Michael said. “So it has been a long, but fruitful time. We worked really, really, really hard for this.”
All of the months of hard work paid off, when the families started moving boxes into their homes Dec. 16.
Each of the families received a scrapbook created by Carroll at a dedication ceremony Dec. 14. The scrapbooks illustrate the whole process, from the ground up.
“This is a new chapter in our lives,” Carroll said.
Each of the families moved into a 1,200 square-feet condominium unit, except for Atkin whose unit is 800 square-feet.
“We have never done condo units before,” said Payson Area Habitat for Humanity Vice President Chuck Proudfoot. “We all got an education.”
Proudfoot said each of the homes is designed as decent, affordable housing — a basic level of housing.
The Habitat organization requires a town to complete two projects a year. Proudfoot said they have already set the footings for five additional condominium units in the Longhorn Village, next to the newly created condominiums.
Each of the units costs around $175,000 to build, but the homeowners only have to pay back around $85,000, interest free, with the help of two grants.
It took the help of around 300 volunteers to complete the projects, Proudfoot said.
The families were selected by a committee that evaluated each application on three criteria, are they living in substandard housing, can they pay a mortgage and are they a willingly participant? Around 50 families applied for the first phase of Longhorn Village.
To volunteer or become a mentor, contact PAHH at (928) 474-0330.