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Volunteers help Bethel Acres couple recover from Oklahoma tornado loss

by Jane Glenn Cannon Published: October 28, 2013

/articleid/3898248/1/pictures/2251287">Photo - Marie-Elena Cronin of Haddonfield, N.J., helps frame a house for Joel and Bettie Spears in Bethel Acres. PHOTO BY STEVE SISNEY, THE OKLAHOMAN <strong>STEVE SISNEY</strong>
Marie-Elena Cronin of Haddonfield, N.J., helps frame a house for Joel and Bettie Spears in Bethel Acres. PHOTO BY STEVE SISNEY, THE OKLAHOMAN STEVE SISNEY

Joel Spears said the framing began Oct. 15, and the completed house will be dedicated in a ceremony set for 11 a.m. Nov. 11.

The new home will be smaller than their former residence, but Joel Spears said he and his wife had been looking to downsize in the near future anyway.

“We just didn't expect it to come about this way,” he said.

Gilliland urges tornado-impacted families to fill out applications to determine eligibility for help from Central Oklahoma Habitat for Humanity.

She said many uninsured or under-insured people might not realize they fit the criteria for Habitat assistance.

“We are committed to helping restore normalcy for families getting their lives back together in the wake of the tornadoes. Central Oklahoma Habitat stands ready to help, and the process has never been faster or easier for those impacted by tornadoes,” she said.

The application process has been expedited for such families. While people who receive a Habitat home typically must contribute 300 hours of “sweat equity” to the project, that figure is only 50 hours for those affected by a tornado. It takes less than a week for a family to see whether they qualify for a rebuild, Gilliland said.

Habitat allows eligible families to purchase homes at cost and with zero percent interest.

For the Spears, who once teamed together professionally driving an eighteen-wheeler, the new home is an opportunity to get back on the road to recovery. They look forward to showing it to their four children and 11 grandchildren.

“We thank the Lord every day for all the help we've received,” said Bettie Spears.

Until the house is ready, Joel Spears said the couple will continue living in a camper trailer given to them by a Cleveland County family who used it as a temporary residence a year ago after their house was destroyed by a wildfire.

“So when we are done, if someone else needs it, they are welcome to it. We want to pay it forward for all the help we've received,” Joel Spears said.

by Jane Glenn Cannon
Senior Reporter
A native of Oklahoma, Jane Glenn Cannon is an award-winning reporter who has covered everything from crime, courts and government to entertainment and features. She wrote a popular personal column for many years. She is a former associate writer...
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