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A house that is truly a home
10.02 habitat-milton 6
Brittaney Roper, Joryden Powell and Vickie Rutland get a closer look at the one of the bedrooms. - photo by Photo by Pat Donahue

Milton Habitat 2

The blessing of the house by Delmons White.

Milton Habitat 1

The dedication of Shirley Milton's new home.

For years, Shirley Milton has opened her door to children who really didn’t have anywhere else to go. Now, Milton, her children and the children she has taken in and cared for as her own have a new home of their own.

The Habitat for Humanity of Effingham County dedicated a house for Milton and her family Sunday afternoon.

“This is a home that has been a long time in coming,” said Brett Gordon, president of the Habitat chapter.

Work on the house began three and a half years ago. The family hasn’t finished moving in; they’re waiting on a final inspection today, and the air conditioning contractor has to hook up the thermostats.

“But you know what? I’ve loved every minute,” Milton said.

“We don’t build houses for anybody,” Gordon said. “We build a house with somebody. And I can tell you the Milton family has been very involved in building this house and supporting Habitat for a very long time.”

The Martin Luther King Jr. Committee also has been instrumental, raising more than $25,000. This is the second house they’ve had a direct hand in building.

The home was started by students at Effingham County High School, where Milton works. She was with them from the start, watching them work on the footers.

“The students swung the hammers and built the framing,” Gordon said.

But as a Habitat homeowner, Milton also had to put in 100 hours of work on other Habitat projects and at least 150 hours on her own house.

“She’s probably done twice that,” Effingham Habitat Executive Director George Groce said. “She has not only been a blessing to us, but she lives out her Christian faith every day. If all Christians could have that serving heart like Shirley Milton, this would be a much, much, much better place.”

Said Milton: “When you’re working with Habitat, you’re working with friends and family,” she said. “You don’t want it to be over. I love every minute of it. I go home at night tired, but I loved every minute of it. It ain’t gonna end here.”

The Effingham Habitat has finished 10 houses and has two more in the works that should be finished soon, according to Gordon.

“Our mission is to eliminate poverty housing and substandard housing in Effingham County,” he said. “We’re doing it. We may not be doing it fast enough, but we’re doing it.”

Building the house wasn’t the only thing that had to be done, according to Delmons White.

“You couldn’t hardly get in,” he said. “Brother George called me and said we needed the lot cleared. Shirley never imagined the end product would look like this when we first started to push out those trees and take out some of those big pines.”

Putting in the driveway also turned out to be a more difficult task than originally anticipated.

“You talk about two men had a time,” White said. “We thought we had it and the inspectors came up and failed it. But the next time, Brother George got smart — he called a professional.”

With the number of children she has and takes in, builders had to make room for another bathroom. The home, and its bathrooms and bedrooms, are the answer of a prayer for Milton, who wanted a home her children could call their own.

“I prayed for this for years,” she said.

She also asked for pleasant weather on the day her house was blessed, and she got a comfortable Sunday afternoon.

“Whoever says God doesn’t answer prayers has got to be crazy,” Milton said.