“Paid in full,” Dr. Ben Bowden said with a smile to Pearl Flowers as he held an umbrella over her head.
“What a testimony of faithfulness,” he added. “What a testimony of community and diligence.”
Bowden is the senior pastor at First Baptist Church of Enterprise. He was among those who braved the rainy weather to attend the mortgage burning held Feb. 10 outside the North Rawls Street home that the church had sponsored.
“First Baptist Church of Enterprise gave $100,000 to the Coffee County Habitat for Humanity to build two homes and this is one of the homes that was built,” Coffee County Habitat for Humanity Board President Charlene Goolsby told the friends, family and supporters who gathered in the rain to watch the paper contract burn in the metal washtub placed in the driveway of the home Flowers has lived in since 2008.
“She is the first (Coffee County Habitat for Humanity homeowner) to pay off the mortgage in full,” Goolsby added.
“Father God, thank you for your faithfulness and love,” said Bowden in the prayer with which he opened the ceremony. “Ms. Pearl what a great story this is,” he said. “In just a few years, you got a 30-year mortgage paid off.”
Flowers was among those who lost homes when the deadly EF4 tornado tore through Enterprise on March 1, 2007. She had worked at the now defunct Enterprise Junior High School on College Street in Enterprise for 25 years.
Flowers said she expected to pay her mortgage off in 30 years but through thrift and diligence was able to pay it off in just 14 years.
“I’ve been here since 2008 and I’m proud of it,” a visibly emotional Flowers said as she glanced over her shoulder at her home. “I worked hard to get it.
“I prayed everyday, ‘Lord, let me get this house paid off,’” Flowers said. “This is something I can say—can’t nobody put me out of this right here.”
Coffee County Habitat for Humanity is an ecumenical Christian housing program. “We build quality, energy efficient homes in partnership with low income families who live in substandard or otherwise unsuitable conditions and who don't qualify for any other type of home loan,” explained Goolsby. “Habitat houses are built mainly by volunteers who work along with selected families in the building of their home.
“Once homes are finished, they are sold to the partner families at no profit with a no-interest mortgage,” Goolsby said. “House mortgage payments go into an account that is used to build more Habitat houses.”
Coffee County Habitat for Humanity receives no government funds and is not a United Way agency. Support is generated entirely by donations from businesses, churches, civic groups and individuals.
Habitat for Humanity International was founded by Millard and Linda Fuller in Americus, Ga., in 1976, and the Coffee County Affiliate was formed in 1999.
Habitat for Humanity Board Chairman since 2003, Goolsby is on the board with Eddie Byrd, Belinda Rogers, Permelia Searcy, Nettie Garth, Jeanine Roberts, Billy Cotter, Daniel Stephens, Tammy Sheldon, LaWanda Grill, Hector Cardona, Susan Russell, Circuit Judge Jeff Kelley, Brian McLeod, Shay Howell, Shana Dembyand Ashley Avery.
The Coffee County Habit for Humanity will host a dedication and open house for the organization’s 24th home to be built in Coffee County Sunday, Feb. 21, at the home of Tawana Thomas on Adkinson Street in Elba.