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Bill Savage, Madison County Habitat for Humanity board member, talks with Jim Pearson, director of Hinds Career Center, at the site where a new Habitat home will be built by Hinds building trades students in the 1300 block of South C Street in Elwood.

Penny Eldridge is ecstatic to finally have a place to call home.

After working with Habitat for Humanity for more than five years, her dream of home ownership is finally becoming a reality.

“I was shocked when I heard it was finally happening,” said the single mother of two and grandmother of two. “I’m just tickled to death about the whole thing.”

Eldridge said finances have been tough as she takes care of her children, now 21 and 13, and two granddaughters, ages 3 and 2. There were times when, without the help of her support system, she would have to choose between groceries and utilities. She said the Habitat home will help cut her expenses and it will be something she can call her own.

The home build will begin at the end of August or early September, with nearly all the construction to be completed by Hinds Career Center’s building-trades students, along with the 200 “sweat equity” hours that Eldridge and her family will put in.

Jeff Clark, Hinds’ building-trades instructor, said about 20 high school juniors and seniors will be doing the majority of the construction. Not only will the project be a great community service for Elwood, he said, but it will give students tremendous hands-on experience in a career field in which they have expressed great interest.

Bill Savage, Elwood’s first Habitat board member, said he is excited to get the community more involved with Habitat. His cousin, Kenneth Heifner, was the one who in 2009 donated the 66-by-132-foot plot of land in the 1300 block of South C Street for a Habitat project. Savage said he’s excited to see the land finally get to serve its purpose of a home for someone in need.

“This is a great organization,” he said. “I’m glad we are able to get another house for another deserving family to live in, especially in Elwood.”

Habitat Executive Director Karl Graddy said the one-story home will have three bedrooms, 1½ bathrooms, a utility room, living room and kitchen. The houses, he said, are very livable yet affordable. The Madison County Habitat organization has built 35 homes since 1988.

“It is encouraging for us to have a property donated, a family that wants to reach out and have a home of their own and volunteers to build it,” Graddy said. “It is a win-win situation.”

Hinds Director Jim Pearson said the center is excited to be a part of the project. The students built a home for Habitat as part of a project in 2005 in the 1900 block of North B Street. He said the center tries to do community projects on a regular basis but the Habitat house is on another level than most of its projects.

“This is giving our students a chance to truly partner with the community and make a huge impact on someone’s life,” Pearson said. “When they are older they can drive by the home and say, ‘I helped build that.’ The opportunity for these kids to give back in such a tangible way — something that will last for years — is great.”

He said it is great for the students to be able to work side-by-side with the future homeowners, something they don’t typically get to do in other building projects.

When Eldridge found out the nontraditional way her Habitat house would be constructed she wasn’t concerned.

“I’ve already waited five years that a couple more months won’t hurt,” she said, jokingly. “I’m just so excited to be a part of building my own home.”

Contact Abbey Doyle: 640-4805, abbey.doyle@heraldbulletin.com

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