YUKON — No. 700 came with icing, and it wasn't just on the cake.
Central Oklahoma Habitat for Humanity dedicated its 700th house Wednesday, with a crowd of volunteers and well-wishers crowded inside Lisa Sumner's new digs, on James Lane in Yukon's Wagner Lake Estates addition.
The temperature was freezing, the wind howling and sleet coming in sideways. Inside it was as warm as toast — and people were thinking in the same direction: sideways, toward one another and Habitat's partnership approach to affordable housing.
Homes are built by volunteers, including the eventual homeowners, who donate time, money and materials. Each home is sold to a qualifying family at no profit, with no down payment and with a no-interest mortgage.
Most, likewise, were thinking — and praying — upward, so to speak. Habitat is a Christian ministry, after all, and preachers and lay church leaders helped Sumner and her two sons, 6-year-old Jackson and 3-year-old Jase, celebrate.
“I'm going to try to hold back the tears because this is an emotional day,” said Sumner, a regulatory affairs specialist for the Oklahoma Foundation for Cardiovascular Research. “To point out how important Habitat is, a few years ago I was put in a position to make a decision for my family, and it left me with two small children and no place to go that I could afford. Habitat has just been such a blessing. Now we're the owners of a brand-new home, and it's affordable and we can stay here for as long as we want.”
Home No. 700 was another major milestone for Central Oklahoma Habitat, founded in Oklahoma City on New Year's Eve, 1986. No. 600 was in January 2011. On Wednesday, Ann Felton Gilliland, chairman and CEO, said the charity builder would reach 1,000 homes “in the twinkling of an eye.”
Sumner received housewarming gifts. Chris Smith, teaching pastor at Yukon Church, prayed. Habitat board member Kelli Hayward led a litany. And Habitat volunteer Lila Hoover presented Sumner with a Bible and talked about the emotional connection that grows between volunteers and homebuyers.
“Today seems to be an emotional day for me because Lisa finally has her home,” Hoover said.