Family breaks ground on E’town Habitat home

By: By Chrysta Carroll -

ELIZABETHTOWN — Marriage, check. Family, check. Employment, check. Owning a home — not so fast. The McIntyre family of Elizabethtown has been chasing the American dream for almost two decades, and, after Friday, thanks to two helpful organizations, they’re one step closer.

Jerry and Regina McIntyre married 20 years ago and began their family with twin sons, Jarod and Jerry Jr., born three months premature. The boys stayed in the neonatal intensive care unit for three months, and doctors told the couple the boys wouldn’t survive or that they would survive but wouldn’t grow. Not only did the boys grow, but they are getting ready to enter their senior year at East Bladen High School.

The dream of owning a home, however, has proven more difficult for the couple than their family aspirations. After decades of renting or staying with family members and of even trying to remodel a relative’s home to make it suitable, they finally reached out to Habitat for Humanity for help.

“She never gave up,” Jerry said of his wife.

As it turned out, their need coincided perfectly with Habitat’s current efforts.

The State Employees Credit Union had a vision to build homes in every county in North Carolina, so the organization reached out to Habitat for Humanity and told them that if Habitat would build the homes, SECU would pay for them, a staggering $10 million commitment on the part of the SECU.

Habitat for Humanity notified each county branch, which began a selection process. Enter the McIntyres.

“I can’t tell you how impressed I’ve been with them,” said Tammy Laurence, Executive Director of Fayetteville Habitat for Humanity, “their character, their hard work, their love for God, and God’s hand on them.”

On Friday, representatives from Bladen Habitat for Humanity, SECU, Fayetteville Habitat, and local officials joined Laurence and the McIntyres for the groundbreaking of the McIntyre’s new home on King Street.

Dawn Madden, executive director of Bladen County Habitat for Humanity, said, “The selection process is a heavy process. I’m so excited to have this happen in our community, and it’s been a long time coming for this family.”

“We don’t give homes away, because we’re not a charity,” said Laurence.

She noted that owners of any Habitat house are required to put in 300 hours of sweat equity and, when the home is complete, owners will pay a mortgage on it, which helps the local tax base.

From start to finish of the ceremony, participants seemed determined to honor God. The event was bookended by prayer, and Laurence pointed out that Habitat for Humanity is a Christian organization.

“Every time we break ground, we are reminded of God’s love for humanity,” Queen Wheeler, incoming member of the Board of Directors for Fayetteville Habitat, said in her remarks.

Regina, when speaking on behalf of her family, first gave thanks to God, without Whom, she said, “we never would have made it.”

Her remarks were followed by her a capella version of a Christian song, “I Won’t Complain,” which speaks of focusing on God’s goodness instead of trials, a song she sang with her hand raised to heaven.

A lighthearted moment in the ceremony came when Regina said, “I’m so excited I don’t know if I should lay down, roll over, sit down, stand up — I don’t know what to do.

She added, “This means the world to us.”

Construction on the McIntyre’s new home is expected to take nine months.

Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.

By Chrysta Carroll