Couple to get their first house

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 13, 2007

COURTLAND—A Sedley couple can now call their dream a reality, as they prepare to help build their first home.

Nannie and Duncan Owney, both 48, along with Duncan’s son, Christopher, 16, are the recipients of a Southampton/Franklin Habitat for Humanity house. A ground-breaking ceremony was held recently in honor of President Bonnie Lyman who died in February. The site, a lot that has been donated to Habitat, is located on Indian Woods Trail near Courtland.

“We have never owned a home,” said Nannie. “Neither of our parents had owned one and my grandparents hadn’t either.”

Nannie said she came from a family of farmers who always lived in tenant houses. She is a native of Southampton County who has lived in the neighborhoods of Sedley and Ivor all her life. She married Duncan June 11, 2001, and is retired on disability.

Duncan was born in Suffolk and raised in Southampton County and works for H.G. Lowe’s mechanic shop.

“The first house I remember living in was in downtown Ivor,” he said. “When my dad passed, he had life rights to where he was living. His dream was to own a home.”

The Owneys currently rent a home on Unity Road.

According to Southampton/Franklin Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Suzy Davis, Habitat, a nonprofit, Christian housing ministry, uses volunteer labor and tax-deductible donations of money, materials and services to build and rehabilitate homes for low-income families.

Families invest 300 hours of “sweat equity” in the building of the home and pay for their home through a no-interest 20-year mortgage.

“There is strict criteria to be chosen as a recipient,” Davis said.

Applicants have to have lived in Southampton County or Franklin for at least one year. The need for improved housing, the ability to pay the mortgage and the willingness to partner with Habitat are also included in the criteria.

Funding comes from donations and mortgage payments are recycled to build more houses.

“We also contribute 10 percent of those funds to Habitat for Humanity International, which builds houses in third world countries,” Davis said.

The Owneys had the opportunity to choose from three house designs and selected a ranch-style structure. The three-bedroom, two-bath home also will have a utility shed.

“It will have a large front porch, a sidewalk and driveway,” Duncan said.

According to the Owneys, the house will be on almost two acres with an adjacent small stream.

Nannie said, “When Christopher was little, he always talked about having a place to put fruit trees. He loves fruit. So we are going to plant some there.

“I also want to have some chickens and a goat,” she said.

The couple also hopes to arrange to have a plaque placed in the sidewalk in memory of Bonnie Lyman.

“The kit house has been ordered and work should be under way soon,” Duncan said.

About 35 to 40 family members and friends of the Owneys, as well as Davis and board members attended the recent groundbreaking ceremony.

Nannie read a poem she wrote just for the occasion, titled “Fulfilling a Dream.”

“If it wasn’t for the Habitat for Humanity, people like Duncan and I could not afford to buy a house,” Nannie said.

“This is a good organization. They are people with good hearts.”

According to Davis, people can volunteer to help with the project without knowing how to be a carpenter.

“You can help provide lunch for the workers or offer to do computer work,” she said.

For more information, contact the Southampton/Franklin Habitat for Humanity office, 651-4369.