By Christopher Smith
The McCowan family’s living room looks a lot like a grass field at the top of Tahoe Lane, but that’s about to change.
The family of six took the first steps to transform a plot of land into their future home at a groundbreaking Saturday morning by digging out earth where the house foundation will go in coming weeks. The Johnson Family Foundation and Bank of America sponsored the new home.
“This means a lot,” said Issac McCowan, father of the family. “Not everyone gets the opportunity to own a home. Without Habitat for Humanity, a lot of people wouldn’t get this chance. I’m very grateful and glad to be the 50th family.”
The McCowans are expected to move into the 50th home before August after it’s built by volunteers with the Habitat for Humanity Dalton-Whitfield County Chapter. The anticipation of building 50 homes in Whitfield County is a milestone that makes Habitat Executive Director Vivian Chance “feel wonderful.”
“It’s just exciting,” she said. “The organization has struggled along for many years and we’ve had setbacks and we’ve had to wait on some homes because we had to wait for the street to be cut in. That took a toll. It’s hard to sit back and not let things get going when you want to put people in houses. But getting a 50th home built is a wonderful, wonderful thing.”
Chance gathered with several habitat volunteers, sponsor members and city officials including Mayor David Pennington.
“What Habitat has done for Dalton is just absolutely amazing,” Pennington told the crowd. “Fifty houses in 33 years. And you didn’t lose any steam during a very difficult (economic) time. ... You’ve all seen things in the newspapers — The New York Times, The Atlanta Journal Constitution — about how difficult things are in Dalton. Of course, most of that was untrue. But that’s neither here nor there. They didn’t see people like this, the people working with Habitat and building new homes.”
The prospect of moving her children into a new home left Ashia McCowan “overwhelmed.”
“I’m speechless,” she said. “I knew that this process was going on, of course, but I didn’t know I was going to feel so overwhelmed. This is just a blessing for my family and we are just grateful to everyone who has put into this house for my family.”
Chance says home 51 is likely to begin shortly after official construction on the McCowan residence starts Monday.