Clark family home dedication stresses benefits of cooperation

David Broyles Staff Reporter

August 27, 2013

A simple white plaque on the table with mementos of the Clark family’s journey to their new Habitat for Humanity home, which was dedicated Sunday, summed up the afternoon’s theme. It read: “Partnership to Home Ownership.” The comments of speakers at the dedication also reinforced the benefits of cooperation.

Greater Mount Airy Area Habitat Interim Executive Director Neil Cothren opened his speech by commenting on the warm, sunny day being a contrast to recent rainy weather which has dominated spring and summer locally.

“We haven’t had days with this much gorgeous weather,” said Cothren. “This is a journey which started on Nov. 11 (2011). A lot of things had to come together for this to happen for this special day for the Clark Family.”

Cothren recognized Construction Manager Greg Russo, Habitat Financial Officer Sheree Russo, Administrative Assistant Alice Burgess and businesses, volunteers, the Surry County School System, Surry Community College and North Surry High School.

Surry County Board of Commissioners member Eddie Harris also praised the cooperation which went into the home build.

“I think this project demonstrates what I think are the two greatest assets of our area — the people and our churches,” said Harris. “Both work together to accomplish so much.”

He also thanked the Surry County School System and local companies for “being great team players.”

The home was built as part of a collaborative project to give North Surry building technology students real world learning experiences building the home on their campus with the opportunity to qualify for college credit. The approach called for innovation to free up time for some of the students to work by piloting an online English course for them which focused on relating English skills with building trades.

Jill Reinhardt , director of Secondary Curriculum and Instruction, talked briefly about what the Greyhound Home Build Project meant to students.

“This has been one of my greatest experiences as an educator, and I’ve been in education for 24-years,” said Reinhardt. “At the beginning, our instructors came to me and said what could we do in construction trades so our students could really learn outside of the brick and mortar of our classrooms. I am thankful I could be a part of this story.”

She recognized several students who had worked on the home who were present for the dedication and talked about North Surry graduate William Cavanaugh who was in attendance for the celebration. She said Cavanaugh had been able to not only graduate but earn college credits and receive a construction technologies certificate through Surry Community College due to the home build. She also commended North Surry Teacher of the Year Myra Combs for piloting the innovative English program.

“This partnership is not over,” Reinhardt said. “We are now working on a new home build dedication set for Sept. 16 on the North Surry campus. I cannot think about this project without remembering Luke’s Gospel where to whom much is given, much is required. My goal, my prayer is that each one gives back as required.”

The Clark family consists of Phillip and his two sisters, Noreen and Ramona. Phillip Clark spoke to the dedication audience as well.

“This is how me and my sisters feel,” said Clark as he read from a paper he had prepared. “We are thankful for being able to share the wonderful blessing of this home. First, I want to thank the Lord. This is the answer to many prayers. Second, I want to thank Habitat and North Surry building students. This has been an act of love by everyone involved. Our parents, if they looked down on us today, would be so proud. God bless you all.”

Sheree Russo later said one of the challenges facing the local Habitat chapter is that while it is enjoying robust numbers of volunteers and business involvement, it is needing families to participate. Families who are interested in applying must meet criteria including need, ability to pay and willingness to partner with at least 250 hours of sweat equity. Habitat homes are not given away, the homeowners pay for the homes through an interest-free loan over 25 or 30 years. More information on becoming a Habitat family can be obtained by calling 789-4663.

Reach David Broyles at or 719-1952.