Kelly Davis wipes away tears of joy after she, her husband Randy and children Alex and Alexis were presented with a photo album of their house being built during a dedication ceremony for their new Habitat for Humanity property on Sunday, August 24. Photo by Michael Heller.
By Mara Certic
After months of anticipation, sweat and hard work, a Bridgehampton family finally has a real place to call home, thanks in no small part to Habitat for Humanity of Peconic.
Randy and Kelly Davis met in 2001; she was from Sag Harbor, and he grew up in Bridgehampton.
“We just kind of ran into each other. In small towns you just know everyone,” Ms. Davis said.
They fell in love, got married and started a family. They rented a two-bedroom-house on Old Sag Harbor Road, where their children Alexis, now 8, and Alex, 6, shared a room. But the rental prices were steep and Mr. and Mrs. Davis struggled to afford their two-bedroom home—not for lack of trying, Mr. Davis works as a custodian in the Sag Harbor School District, and his wife is a nursing assistant at Southampton Hospital.
They were also paying out-of-district fees so that their daughter could attend prekindergarten in Bridgehampton, as there wasn’t one available to her in Sag Harbor at that time.
About four years ago, Mrs. Davis’s aunt learned from Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Bridgehampton that Habitat for Humanity of Peconic had put out the word to various local parishes that it was seeking a family for whom to build a new house.
“I just had a feeling that it was right at the perfect moment,” Mrs. Davis said at the dedication of her new house on Scuttlehole Road in Bridgehampton on Sunday. Her husband was not so confident, however, and really couldn’t believe the news when they found out that they had been chosen to receive this “blessing,” he said.
Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit organization, founded by Millard and Linda Fuller in 1976. Its mission is plain: to build simple, decent, affordable housing for those who need it most. Although a self-described “Christian housing ministry,” Habitat for Humanity helps people of all races and religions and has a strict non-proselytizing policy.
According to Deirdre Herzog, treasurer for Habitat for Humanity of Peconic, Suffolk County gave the land for the house to the Town of Southampton which, in turn, passed it along to Habitat for Humanity.
Ms. Herzog, who has been involved with Habitat for the past 16 years, said that there were delays in getting the process rolling. “When it was time to start building on the property there were issues with the neighbor having encroached on the property, so it took a long time to get those types of things cleared up,” she said.
Work finally started in April 2013 when lot clearing began. Farrell Builders of Bridgehampton gave their time and expertise to the project, and one of their employees, Chris Perrier, worked as the crew leader. Mr. Perrier described himself more as “an educator” on the process. “I pretty much got the shell together for them, pointed them in directions they had to go in,” he said.
Habitat for Humanity requires its future homeowners to contribute at least 500 hours of “sweat equity.” According to Ms. Davis, she and her family and friends contributed more than 800 hours of labor to the building of their new home. “It was awesome,” she said. “We put a lot of work into it.”
Certain local construction companies donated materials; others sold them at discounted prices. Bridgehampton National Bank provided some funding for the project and became a sponsor. A group of bank employees even volunteered some of their time to help with painting and other odd jobs.
The typical Habitat house can take up to a year, Ms. Herzog said. But the conflicting schedules of the skilled construction workers and volunteers further delayed the project’s completion. “It was a rough winter,” Mr. Perrier explained. “And what happens is, out here, this season’s just been extremely busy for all trades,” he said, adding that it proved hard to get volunteers.
But on Sunday, August 24, a formal dedication at the house at 2245 Scuttlehole Road marked the end of a long chapter for the Davis family, and the beginning of a new one. “She’s totally psyched that they have their own rooms now,” Ms. Davis said of her daughter who was showing off her new, very pink bedroom. Her brother aimed a ball at the miniature basketball hoop hanging from the door of his first very own bedroom.
Friends, volunteers, family and clergy gathered at the new house for Sunday’s dedication, a celebration Habitat for Humanity chapters throughout the nation observe. The Davises were given a Bible, an album filled with pictures of the construction process and a hammer that was used in the construction of their house. “Do good,” said Mark Mott, president of Habitat for Humanity of Peconic. Reverend Dr. H.G. McGhee, of the First Baptist Church of Bridgehampton offered a few words while those gathered held hands in prayer.
“We pray in the name of Jesus that this house becomes a blessing for those who reside here,” he said. And then everyone repeated after the minister, “Dedicated in the name of the father, son and Holy Spirit. God bless you.”
For more information about Habitat on the East End, visit hfhpeconic.org.