Two Michigan City Families Celebrate Ownership of New Habitat Homes

By: Laurie Wink Last Updated: September 11, 2012

Double dedication ceremonies were held Sunday afternoon for two newly constructed houses on Michigan City’s west side that were recently completed by the La Porte County Habitat for Humanity organization and volunteers.

The new home of Tracy Coleman and her sons Christian, 15 and Antonio, 10, is at 218 Willard Ave. A few blocks away, at 413 Lincoln Ave., is the home of Rose Sharp and her son Jordan, 7.

Coleman works in food service for the Michigan City Area Schools and has been living in Lakeland Estates. Before that, she spent time at the Stepping Stones women’s shelter and The Bridge transitional living facility, both in Michigan City. On Sunday, she talked about the “long struggle” that lead up to the joyful event.

“At the Bridge, I set goals for the next five years to work for the (Michigan City) schools, to get my license back and to own a house,” she said. “I’ve done that in four years, with the support of a lot of different people. You all had faith in me even when I didn’t.”

Sharp has been living in transitional housing at The Bridge for two years and is employed at Blue Chip Casino. During the build season, she worked at the casino from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. and at the construction sites from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“Thank God for everything and everybody who helped me,” Sharp said. “The volunteers, Habitat and everybody.”

Over the past several years, La Porte County Habitat has built seven houses in partnership with the City of Michigan City, which received federal grant funds through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program to eliminate substandard housing and add safe, affordable housing. At the dedication ceremony, Michigan City Community Development Director Judy Pinkston said, “With (NSP) funding coming into this community, we’ve built a total of 18 houses. It’s a lot of partnerships and it’s nice to see some success stories come out of that.”

LCHFH construction manager Sue Downs congratulated everyone who attended the dedication ceremonies for being part of the community effort to grow new neighborhoods. She gave special recognition to La Porte County Master Gardeners for partnering with La Porte County Habitat to create landscaping for 25 of the new homes. On behalf of the Master Gardeners, Barb Merten received a plaque displaying all of the houses and thanking the volunteer gardeners for hours of dedicated service. Michigan City and La Porte area nurseries as well as Lowe’s donate plant materials for the new houses, and the City of Michigan City supplies two trees and wood chips for each one.

Downs also recognized the special contributions of construction volunteers Debbie King and Mary Anne Ostrowski, who started donating their time in 2006 and have since contributed more than 2,000 hours to help build 20 houses in La Porte County. In addition, King and Ostrowski are currently president and vice president, respectively, of the LCHFH Board of Directors.

Evangelist David McCray, of the Advancing Christ’s Kingdom Ministry in Michigan City, gave the blessing at both houses. He compared the team effort involved in building the houses to the work of a football team and called the results touchdowns.

Coleman, Sharp and other Habitat partner families are required to each put in 500 hours of sweat equity in construction and can accumulate hours by working on Habitat houses besides their own. Habitat sells homes to partner families at no profit with an interest free loan.

The La Porte County Habitat is a nonprofit organization that became an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International in 1986. The organization believes in empowering volunteers and partner families to build decent houses in decent communities as a way of strengthening neighborhoods and changing lives.