By Yasheaka Oakley
Sunless skies couldn’t dull the excitement and anticipation created by the long-awaited Walnut Ridge Groundbreaking Ceremony.
The Wednesday, March 25 event opened with Habitat for Humanity of New Castle County’s Board President Noreen Poole welcoming a crowd of almost 100 supporters to the ceremonial start of the $1.5 million development of nine new townhomes on Wilmington’s Eastside.
“This isn’t the first time that we have built homes in Wilmington’s East Side,” Poole said. “Just 10 years ago we completed the Hope Run development not far from here.”
“This project and the other 224 homes we have built in the New Castle County area would not have been possible without the support of generous donors and sponsors like Bank of America, which donated this land to become the future home of nine families, ” she added, speaking from the future home site at the 1400 block of Walnut Street.
In addition to the land donation, Bank of America also provided an $85,000 grant for construction.
“Our comprehensive approach connects our philanthropy and the passion of our employee volunteers to support affordable housing and community revitalization,” said Chip Rossi, Delaware market president, Bank of America. “Nothing is more foundational to a family’s financial well-being than access to affordable, stable housing and our support of Habitat for Humanity will continue to make a lasting impact for local families.”
Joining Rossi at the groundbreaking were more than 25 Bank of America employee volunteers, who have committed 2,015 volunteer hours to the Walnut Ridge project.
Rossi added that Bank of America’s team of employee volunteers is excited to support yet another construction project “and to fulfill these families’ dreams by providing them with a sense of community.”
Pastor Jerome Lewis of Seeds of Greatness Bible Church blessed the occasion, calling the groundbreaking, “the breaking forth of a dream” as he set the stage for the diverse cross section of government, community, religious and business leaders who also spoke at the event.
“DSHA is really proud to be a partner in this project,” said Anas Ben Addi, Director, of the $270,000 in funds his office committed to the development. “What we love about habitat … is they just don’t come in and implant new housing in a neighborhood without taking into consideration what’s going on around the neighborhood … they approach it as a community involvement piece.”
Prospective Walnut Ridge homeowner Jennifer Kelly shared how what she called a “wink” from God paved the path to her opportunity for homeownership.
“God’s wink brought me here today to share with everyone my personal meaning,” said Kelly, “Habitat means I get to start anew, fresh and from the beginning. It means that God is giving me another chance to offer complete security and stability for my three children.”
To demonstrate Habitat for Humanity’s mission to put God’s love into action, CEO Kevin Smith invited leaders from of Habitat’s partner churches to donate bibles to be placed in the foundation of each new townhouse and gifted to homeowners when their homes are completed.
“We approached the churches, whose foundation is Jesus Christ, to partner in this project so that the foundation of these families will rest on the Lord,” he said.