Habitat celebration marks completion of new homes in Joplin, Oronogo

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May 25—The Joplin Area Habitat for Humanity on Thursday marked the completion of four new homes for four area families.

Three of the homes are in Joplin, and one is in Oronogo.

Dozens of people gathered at Luljeta Hamiti's new digs on Nevada Street in Oronogo for snacks, a few words and a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday.

"This is a big deal," said Hamiti, who came to America in 1999 as a child refugee with her family from the Kosovo war in the Balkans. "I'm very excited to be a homeowner, more privacy. In apartments, there's no privacy. A lot of trees and a yard. The best part about this because now we have a backyard and my son is disabled. I can take him for walks here, and I can put some swings up. I couldn't do any of that before."

Hamiti and her two boys were celebrating getting ready to move into their home for the first time. The other three families at the celebration have been in their homes for a few weeks.

They are Joey and Stephanie Creveling and their son, Theodore, who moved into a new home on Roosevelt Avenue in Joplin; Shelby Sanchez and her daughter, Raely, 7, who recently moved into a new home on West Eighth Street; and Athena Hunt and her four children, Shane 16, Alexus, 15, Sophia, 11, and Aurora, 10, who moved into another home on Roosevelt Avenue.

"This is always good," said Scott Clayton, executive director of the local Habitat organization. "We completed the three homes in the colder months and here we are as we enter into summer. We had a nice weather occasion to bring us all together and congratulate Luljeta and celebrate the fact that we had three other homes completed and their homeowners are here."

Concrete home

Hamiti's home is special in its construction.

Clayton said her home is the second insulated concrete form home completed by Habitat.

"We did the first one last year with our veteran build," Clayton said. "It's kind of a new building technology for us. We're going to try to build a few of them. There's a lot of plusses to it. It's built with concrete walls, which provides not only strength but insulation and noise cancellation, and just safety."

Hunt home

Athena Hunt said she's struggled making ends meet for her and her four children.

Hunt said she's done her best to make due, but being chosen by Habitat to receive a home was a game-changer.

"It's just nice to have that stability for your kids," she said.

Sanchez home

Shelby Sanchez heard about Habitat from family and friends, and was overjoyed when she learned she'd been chosen.

She and her daughter moved into their new house on West Eighth Street a few weeks ago.

"We've been having to rely on family members a lot," Sanchez said. "Now we get to be a little bit more self-sufficient, have our own space together. And it's affordable ... which is hard to find."

Creveling home

The Crevelings say they are proud to have their new home on Roosevelt Street as a safe place to raise what they call their miracle baby, Theodore, 2.

"Roosevelt Avenue," Stephanie said. "When our son was born, we decided to name him Theodore, then our new house is on Roosevelt, so that's great."