Kent State’s Habitat for Humanity restores home for hopeful local family

Monica Higgins, the secretary of Habitat for Humanity’s Kent State chapter, adjusts a work light in the basement of a home in Kent, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. Higgins was one of several volunteers who worked to repaint a home for Denise Ramey and her daughter, Taylor, who are awaiting a new home. Denise and Taylor have both worked with volunteers on the renovations to pay into “sweat equity,” a part of the Habitat for Humanity home-owning process, which encourages future homeowners to aid in the construction of their future home. 

Emily McMahan

Breathe in.

Most are fortunate enough to do so without fear. For some, taking a deep breath in their homes could lead to death or damaging diseases such as tuberculosis.

This semester, the Kent State chapter of Habitat for Humanity, an organization that restores homes for people in the community who need it most, is working differently to help eliminate these risks. The group is helping rebuild a new home for those who live in unsafe conditions.

“It’s a rehabilitation,” said Aimee Wildrick, the president of the group and a junior early childhood education major. “It’s about taking everything out that’s unusable or no longer safe and getting ready to rebuild.”

Denise Ramey and her daughter, Taylor, had been living in a trailer park community in Atwater, a roughly 20-mile drive from Kent, when they received an eviction notice. They were given 30 days to leave.

“Everyone is one paycheck away from being homeless,” Ramey said.

The group is now in the process of building a new home for the two.

“It’s really good to make a direct impact in the community where I’m living right now,” said Monica Higgins, the secretary for the Kent State chapter of Habitat for Humanity and a sophomore general business major. “Being able to learn while giving back is something I really like.”

Taylor is a senior in high school this year, and she said she is looking forward to having her graduation party in her own home, with a yard large enough for family and friends.

Wildrick said there are several red flags for the group as they tear down the old and get ready for the new. The house was old and contained several risks to address: paint with lead, asbestos and several other dangerous elements.

Both Denise and Taylor said they are looking forward to cooking meals, watching TV and relaxing in the comfort of a home they are able to call their own. The women have been staying with Denise’s sister while the rehabilitation is taking place and have been sharing a bed.

“This is my fourth year without a house,” Taylor said. “It’s just really exciting.”

Emily McMahan is a student life reporter. Contact her at [email protected].