Students offer blessing of a home to a local woman

Delmarva Christian High School students, on Monday of this week, got to see real-life reactions to one of their “J-Term” projects.

Coastal Point • Jesse Pryor: Sara Pletcher of AmeriCorps signs a ‘blessing’ on the framing of the home built at Delmarva Christian High SchoolCoastal Point • Jesse Pryor
Sara Pletcher of AmeriCorps signs a ‘blessing’ on the framing of the home built at Delmarva Christian High School.

The school, and the 29 students who picked Habitat for Humanity as their J-Term project, welcomed Habitat representatives, AmeriCorps Construction volunteers and Maria Benitez – dressed in a “Habitat Homeowner in Progress” T-shirt – to a blessing of the framework of what will eventually become a home for Benitez and her four children. This is the third year the school has worked with Habitat for Humanity on an affordable home for a local family.

Because OSHA regulations prohibit anyone younger than 18 from using power tools, each nail in the framework had been driven by hand by the students last week in the school’s tech building. This week, Habitat for Humanity was scheduled to load the framework on to a trailer and set it up at the home site near Seaford.

Peyton Green, a student who helped work on the Habitat home, summed J-Term 2010. “I really liked building this house and serving other people,” he said. “Last year, I went on a mission trip to Jamaica, but this year I wanted to do it in a more local area.”

Green and his 28 fellow students got to meet Benitez for the first time this week. Benitez, a resident of Georgetown, and her four children are expected to move in May to Concord Village, Habitat’s subdivision near Seaford, Del., which presently houses 18 families.

After the blessing, students got to write their names or messages on the studs of the framework, as is custom with Habitat for Humanity volunteers. They filled the wood with words of hope: “May joy always be in this home,” and “May God bless you and keep you safe.”

J-Term is the period of time between the two semesters at DCHS that school officials said provides “unique opportunities for ministry and experience that will help the students determine God’s will in their lives.” Students have a first and second choice and can pick from projects ranging from SAT prep to a Jamaica missions trip or working with Habitat for Humanity, among many others.

Benitez, the “homeowner in progress,” was moved to tears as she spoke to the students, the staff and guests on Jan. 11 at the blessing of the house.

“I am very excited today. You have no idea,” she said. Later, she said through a translator, “I am very happy. Every single person here is working for me and my children to have a house. It’s the world’s dream to have their own house, and I have been given that dream.”

Habitat for Humanity homes don’t come purely as a gift, though. Benitez herself is a part of making that dream come true, as – along with making the down payment and mortgage payments – each homeowner invests hours of sweat-equity hours into their house and houses of others.

Since 1991, the Georgetown affiliate of Habitat for Humanity has built 48 homes in Sussex County that now house 70 adults and 127 children. Their mission of the Sussex County Habitat for Humanity affiliate, a nonprofit Christian housing ministry, is to build simple, decent, affordable houses in partnership with low-income families in Sussex County.

Delmarva Christian High School is a non-denominational, regional Christian high school serving students in grades 9 through 12. The 44-acre campus, including the 126,000-square-foot high school building and the 4,000-square-foot technology building, is located in Georgetown, Del.