Brittani Swain gets goose bumps thinking about the day in late October with she was given the keys to her new home.
The goose bumps aren't just for the house, constructed by Central Oklahoma Habitat for Humanity in partnership with Swain and her husband, J.D. Redwine, in the Hope Crossing addition. But because along with the house, “I got so close to everybody at Habitat for Humanity, I feel like I have a new family,” Swain said.
Central Oklahoma Habitat built 46 houses in 2013 — 18 in Hope Crossing, where a total of 206 homes have been built on the 217 lots at NE 83 and Kelley Avenue.
Other highlights for the year include:
• Six tornado relief homes built.
• Tornado relief assistance from 196 volunteers helping 52 families with teardown and debris removal.
• Mobilization of some 700 volunteer hours on each Habitat house, saving more than $12,000 in labor costs per project.
• In addition to Hope Landing, Central Oklahoma Habitat continued to build in its other developments: nine in the Las Rosas addition, SE 25 and Byers, and six in Faith Landing, on County Line Road between SW 44 and SW 59.
• Land acquisition for Legacy Estates, southwest of Wilshire Boulevard and Council Road. Fundraising for infrastructure development is underway. Donations are tax deductible.
The Redwine family had been living in Orlando, Fla., where Swain grew up, but after “a bad year” in 2010-11, they relocated to the Oklahoma City area, where J.D. was raised.
Living with an aunt, J.D. was able to start his job with Baker Brothers Electric while Brittani settled their sons Camryn, 5 and Jesse, 9, into school.
In March 2013 the Redwines were ready to file an application to buy a home from Habitat for Humanity and work with the organization throughout construction.
“We had to show a year of employment, good credit, bills in our name,” Swain said, in order to qualify for a Habitat home.
But the biggest qualifier — a constant for all Habitat for Humanity families — was the “sweat equity” requirement, 300 hours of volunteer work for the organization, divided between construction work and community service.
Sweating for equity
Swain and Redwine each launched into volunteering on construction projects, completing their obligatory 100 hours (50 each) within a few weeks.
Framing a house “was amazing,” Swain said, “learning how to do that and working with such great people.”
She booked another 200 volunteer hours at a Habitat Renovation Station, where Habitat for Humanity sells new, used and vintage building materials, appliances, furniture and other household items. There is one at 1800 N Broadway just north of downtown and one at 2805 SW 29.
In the meantime, the Redwines were choosing a lot and a floor plan for their house, starting to imagine the day they would actually live there.
The day came sooner they had dreamed when they were selected for a “Blitz Build,” a choreographed push by volunteers — in this case, Devon Energy Corp. employees — to fast-track the construction process.
“Our regular build is three months,” said Janis Dozier, family services administrator for Central Oklahoma Habitat. “In a ‘Blitz Build' we go from framing day to move-in in as little as a month.”
With Devon Energy volunteers handling drywall, “framing, painting, even up on the roof,” the Redwines' house grew from lot, to slab, to skeleton, to new home in just under two months.
“We were so lucky,” Swain said.
Indeed, Dozier said, the “Blitz Build” is a matter of timing: When a corporate sponsor says it's ready with volunteers and cash, “we check and see which family's application is ready to go.”
The finished product is a 1,200-square foot, three-bedroom, two-bathroom house with a two-car garage.
On dedication day, 9-year-old Jesse stood by to lead tours of his new house, assisted by his brother.
The boys, who attend North Highland Elementary, have been as house proud as their parents ever since. Sharing a bedroom while finishing touches are put on the master bedroom, they sleep in bunk beds custom built by J.D.
Five-year-old Camryn, although excited to have a new house (including a perfect spot for the terrarium home of their three pet garden snakes) was even more excited about another thing: He has been assured by his parents that Santa knows his new address.