After being delayed by COVID-19 for more than a year, Conyers-Rockdale Habitat for Humanity broke ground Nov. 17 on its ninth house in the Olde Town Village subdivision off Lakeview Drive.

The new home will be the first on Faith Lane in the neighborhood, and President Bob Harwood said they anticipate building four or five more homes on the road in the next couple of years.

Harwood said the homeowners are Carol and Donald Vaughn.

“Carol is a retired teacher with the Rockdale County School System, and Donald is retired, but you would never know it,” Harwood said. “He stays busy with us at the ReStore. One of the requirements to get a home is that the homeowner needs to do 200 hours of sweat equity, which means that they get their 200 hours when they come out to build the house. Donald and Carol already have their 200; I think they’re working on 600 hours. They are always working with us at our store. We could not have picked a better couple for our next house.”

Conyers Mayor Vince Evans noted that Habitat for Humanity began in Rockdale County in 1990. He said the city sold 11 acres of land to the organization in 2004 for Olde Town Village, and after roads and infrastructure were installed, the first home was built in 2011, with lots for 31 more homes available.

“Conyers has a lot of things that may help someone’s quality of life, but here at Habitat, you are truly changing people’s lives, one family at a time,” said Evans. “I think that is something we all need to recognize and be aware of.”

Rockdale County Department of Public Relations Director Joe Gumm spoke on behalf of the Board of Commissioners and pledged their support to Habitat for Humanity.

“Habitat for Humanity is touching all demographics, all ages, all genders, and that’s what’s great about this,” said Gumm. “In this world of divisiveness, it’s great to come to an event like this because we’re all on the same page and we all support what Habitat for Humanity is doing, because there is one job to do — build a house, get these people in it, provide for them, and find a way to make it happen.”

Also speaking at the ceremony was Ryan Willoughby, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Georgia. He praised the cooperation between the Conyers-Rockdale branch of Habitat and the city and county and said they are “a shining example” for the rest of the state.

“Habitat is about giving people an opportunity to build not just the home, but the life of their dreams that they are entitled to as human beings, as children of God,” said Willoughby. “We believe every human being deserves a safe, decent, affordable place to live, and that’s what we endeavor to create through Habitat. I just want to praise you for what you’re doing in this community. Keep up that great work and continue to be a shining example of what hope looks like here in the state of Georgia.”

Following the groundbreaking, Harwood presented the Vaughns with a commemorative shovel, and also praised the work of Pro Cutters Lawnscapes of Conyers, who cleared the lot and the area around it of kudzu, and also cleaned the entrance and planted flowers at the entrance as a donation.

Rev. Chris Shurtz, pastor of Conyers First United Methodist Church, gave a blessing for the homeowners and a benediction to end the ceremony.

The Vaughns said they are excited about being chosen for a Habitat house. They have been working with Habitat for about 18 months in the store. Carol Vaughn related how they came to be chosen for a home.

“Donald was picking up furniture with Bob (Harwood) and he asked Donald where we lived and Donald told him in an apartment and Bob asked if we had ever thought about a Habitat house,” she said. “Donald said we didn’t think we would qualify. The next time they worked together, Bob brought the application and told Donald to just fill it out, so we did. We were actually at our son’s in Florida and my cell phone rang. I answered it, and it was Sharon saying we had been approved for the house. So it was amazing.”

Donald Vaughn added they really appreciate the Habitat board and workers, not only for the house, but for allowing them to volunteer.

“It really means a lot to me and my wife to have a community and to have a place where we can go and volunteer,” he said. “I’m retired, and she’s retired, but she still teaches. But I’ve been retired almost 10 years and I needed something in my life to fill it more, and this has been a blessing, a real blessing.”

The house, which will be built by volunteers with construction manager John Daniels overseeing the work, is expected to take six to seven months, depending on weather.

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Senior Reporter

I've worked in community newspapers for 30 years, including Editor of the Jackson Progress-Argus from 1993-1999. Started at Rockdale Citizen/Newton Citizen in January 2016. Started as Senior Reporter at the Jackson Progress-Argus in December 2019.

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