Chesapeake Utilities and students from Polytech High School helped Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity frame a house Oct. 24.
Rosa Castillo came to the United States from the Dominican Republic in 2003. After living and working in New York for several years, she moved to Delaware with her husband and son.
On Thursday, Oct. 24, she watched as a group of volunteers from Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity, Chesapeake Utilities and Polytech High School built and lifted the frame of her first home. Tears filled her eyes.
“Yo me siento muy emocionada, lo que quiero llorar de la emoción, pero muy feliz y agradecida a mi Dios. Ya tenemos un sueño realizado,” she said, explaining that she was overflowing with emotion, crying with happiness and thanking God. She said they have seen a dream come true.
Starting at 9 a.m., almost 50 volunteers strapped on tool belts, stretched out measuring tapes and brought hammers to nails, building the outside frame of the Castillos’ new home in two hours.
A second shift would arrive in the afternoon to build the inside walls.
The community build was part of “Framing Frenzy,” in which volunteers from Chesapeake Utilities and carpentry students from Polytech joined staff and volunteers from Habitat for Humanity to frame a home for a family in need.
It all happened behind Chesapeake’s new building at 500 Energy Lane near the Blue Hen Mall in Dover. Chesapeake hopes to use the open space as a training area and hands-on classroom, called “Safety Town.”
Mr. D’s class of junior and senior carpenters from Polytech were in the middle of the construction, learning and practicing their skills. They said they were glad to be outside the classroom.
When they finish, the volunteers will move the one-story ranch-style house from Chesapeake’s building site piece by piece. The Castillos’ home will reach its final destination on New Street.
Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity works with the Dover Police Department and Restoring Central Dover, a citywide effort led by the affordable housing nonprofit NCALL, to find old buildings that need to be replaced.
This not only helps families in need, but can also improve the look of downtown Dover and make the neighborhood safer, said Autumn Chalabala, director of business operations at Chesapeake Utilities.
“We’re really supportive of our neighborhood and really want to see it grow and thrive,” Chalabala said. “There’s always someone else out there who’s in need. It’s very important for us to help those people out and give them all that we have. There’s always something left in us to give, so we’re very appreciative to have that opportunity.”
Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity includes two parts: building houses and ReStore, a home improvement store and donation center that helps fundraise for their housing efforts.
In June, they bought and moved into their ReStore building next to the Dover Skating Center on Route 13. The new location has helped them become more accessible, said executive director Tim Bailey.
They expect to build 10 houses by the end of the year, which is their most yet, said Laura Simpson, director of relationship management at Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity.
Central Delaware is one of the state’s three Habitat for Humanity branches. They depend on state and federal funding and their volunteers who contribute $300,000 worth of labor each year, Bailey said.
“It’s like a big family,” Jennifer Cepeda, a homeowner and family friend of the Castillos, said about Habitat for Humanity. “The one thing that I love the most is that, even though [Rosa Castillo] doesn’t speak a lot of English, everyone in ReStore, they all try to communicate through Google Translate. They don’t let the lack of communication [stop them].”
Cepeda is now working to translate Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity’s materials into Spanish.