'Women build' creates two Habitat houses in Covington for two women

Original Article on nola.com

St. Tammany Habitat for Humanity celebrated a year's worth of women, wives, and mothers with the dedication of two St. Tammany Habitat for Humanity Women Build homes for two women in Covington recently.

Women Build is a Habitat for Humanity program that encourages women to volunteer and make home ownership a reality. Construction on the two homes began in October 2016. On May 24, the two homes were dedicated and keys, a Bible, and a hammer were given to the new homeowners.

Homeowners, who must be gainfully employed, purchase the Habitat houses on a 30 year, 0 percent interest mortgage only after working 300 sweat-equity hours on the project and attending classes about finance, budgeting, and home maintenance.

The Carly McHugh family and the Antoinette McGee family happily entered their new homes.

Antoinette McGee is a library assistant at the Madisonville Library. The McGee family consists of Antoinette's mother, Antoinette, and her four children, Dakota, Ericka, Jada and Makayla. The family has been living in a 3-bedroom apartment. Her rent and utilities alone are 52 percent of her income.

Dakota wants to become an engineer or an architect. Ericka wants to be a nurse at Lakeview Hospital in the baby nursery.

"My mom is there when we need her. She always puts us first and teaches us to be who we are. She also teaches us that we can do anything as long as we try," Ericka said.

McGee agreed, "I tell them they can also overcome anything as long as they work for it."

Carly McHugh works at the Little Red Schoolhouse in Covington as the 2-year-old classroom teacher. She is known for her arts and crafts and her pet, "Daryl the dog."

McHugh loves working with children.

"I encourage them to learn something new, use their words to communicate, and at the end of every day I share something good they did with their parents when they are picked up. To see a child learn and know I taught them how to communicate or problem solve is very rewarding and empowering," McHugh said.

McHugh has been living in 375-square feet space. Her biggest concern is electrical issues in her current rental. She cannot use the microwave and refrigerator at the same time or keep the refrigerator door open very long without blowing the breaker.

"The challenge of renting is trying to find somewhere that is affordable and isn't falling apart. Also, finding a landlord who will actually maintain the property," McHugh said.

McHugh looks forward to having enough space to host guests for dinner, including her brother and sister-in-law expecting in December. The Habitat houses are purchased with all appliances including dishwashers, refrigerators and washers and dryers. McHugh will be guest ready.

McGee and McHugh have become good friends through the hours of sweat equity and educational classes that are part of the Habitat program. They became such good friends that they each put in 150 hours of sweat equity labor in one month so they could be at the top of the list at the same time. Being at the top of the list at the same time meant they could get locations next door to each other. They look forward to being lifelong neighbors and friends.

The community came together to create housewarming gifts for McGee and McHugh.

The second grade class of Christ Episcopal School created welcome home cards and drawings displayed on each house. Students at Mary Queen of Peace decorated flower pots for the new homes. The Ozone Layers Quilt Guild, which regularly meets at St. Timothy's United Methodist Church, donated housewarming quilts.

Painting with a Twist donated custom art. The St Tammany Master Gardeners supplied the labor and the Garden Spot of Mandeville donated the plants for landscaping. Louisiana Custom Closets donated and installed closet systems to the two homeowners.

Sponsors of these two homes include Chevron, Rain Carbon Inc., CGB Enterprises, Inc., Louis Ross Jr., Betty Ross, Painting with a Twist, Home Bank, Asset One, Blue Williams LP, Covington Rotary Club, Donahue Favret Contractors, Inc., Howell & Associates, ITS Promotional Marketing Group, Lakeview Regional Medical Center, Merrill Lynch, Northlake Mandeville Rotary Club, PJ's Coffee and Tea, Plexus Worldwide Barbara Dillon, Pool Corp., Porteous, Hainkel & Johnson LLP, Resource Bank, Safelite Auto Glass, Stirling Properties, Tito's Handmade Vodka, Trinity Medical Services, Truitt Law Firm, CLECO Power, Environmental Business Specialists, LLC, Keller Williams Realty, msh Architects, Murphy Marine Inspections, Pelican Athletic Club, Acme Brick, Bmac Interiors/Terpsichore, Brett Petry Architect, Citizens Bank & Trust Co., CJ Ladner State Farm, Coldwell Banker TEC Realtors, Investar Bank, Krewe of Eve, Lion King Float, Larry and Johnette Champagne, NOLA Lending, Phoebe Whealdon, Reagan & Reagan CPA, LLC, RE/MAX Elite, Women of Infinite Possibilities, Dow, Schneider Electric, CREE, Whirlpool, Valspar, Yale, Hunter Douglas, Bin There Dump That, FJHL Bank Dallas, and the Campbell Cabinet Company.