Veterans get key to new home

November 14, 2018

HUNTINGTON — It was an extra special Veterans Day for two Huntington residents who received the keys to their new home built by the Huntington Area Habitat for Humanity.

Veterans Scott Mills and Melissa Lawhon will live in the 11th house built as part of the Veterans Housing Initiative, a program developed in Huntington to give permanent residency to those who served our country. It is the 108th home built by the Huntington Area Habitat for Humanity.

The home is located in the 1400 block of Primrose Avenue.

“This is the 108th home for us, but the first for them,” said David Michael, executive director of Huntington Area Habitat for Humanity.

The couple cut the ribbon to their new home during a dedication ceremony Monday evening. During the ceremony, the couple received housewarming gifts from Tri-Area Needle Arts Guild, the Huntington Habitat for Humanity ReStore, the Habitat board of directors and American Legion Post 177 Riders.

A large crowd of veterans, volunteers and community members were also in attendance, including employees of AT&T, which built some of the walls for the house in the parking lot of the Direct TV building off 5th Street hill.

“Active duty service members are provided with essentials,” said Bambi Sowards, AT&T Huntington Customer Care Center team manager and U.S. Airforce veteran. “I was stationed in Turkey so I had shelter, I had a uniform, I had food, but when you come home afterwards, you don’t always have that. I was very fortunate I had family there to support me, but I could have easily ended up homeless.”

Sowards said contributing to building a home is just one way to show appreciation for veterans and their service.

Veterans are selected and approved for the housing program through the VA Medical Center. Those who participate must complete a minimum of 100 “sweat equity” hours, including homeowner education classes, and are responsible for paying back a no-profit, no-interest mortgage to the affiliate.

To find out if you qualify, contact the Huntington VA Medical Center Community Resource and Referral Center at 304-529-9142.

Follow reporter Taylor Stuck on Twitter and Facebook @TaylorStuckHD.

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