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Visiting a Murf. Habitat homeowner 20 years later


MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WMOT)  --  Habitat for Humanity of Rutherford County is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Earlier this week the charity dedicated its 125th home on Lynch Drive in Murfreesboro.

WMOT News recently had a chance to visit with Ruby Akridge. The Murfreesboro native moved into her Habitat built home in 1992.

Like every Habitat home owner, Ackridge wasn’t simply handed a set of house keys. She was required to work alongside the volunteers building her home...labor Habitat calls “sweat equity.”

“I had to do 800 sweat equity hours,” Ackridge recalled. “That sounds like a lot, but there’s lots of little things that had to be done.”

Walking around Akridge January Street home, it’s clear the house has seen some hard living, but it's still in surprisingly good shape.

"When you’re a homeowner, the responsibility for things begins and ends with you,” Akridge explained. “As the house becomes older, I find that there’s a lot of things that need to be done and you have to get those things done. (You are) a little better off if you get them done timely.”

Akridge said the home has been a blessing, not just to her, but to her entire family. She noted that three of her four daughters have lived with her at various times. Her granddaughter and her 89 year old mother, Louiza (Lou-EYE-zuh) Johnson, live with her now.

Habitat Rutherford Executive Director Terri Shultz said seeing clients like Miss Ruby fill their homes up with love and family is exactly what the charity hopes for.

“We don’t want anyone’s home to be a museum,” Schultz said. “We want them to walk in the first day they move in and feel like it’s theirs, and that they’ve worked really hard and that they’ve earned it.”

And they do earn it. In addition to the sweat equity hours prospective Habitat home owners are required to put in, Schultz explained they also get put through a kind of homeowner’s boot camp.

“There’s 30 weeks of financial education that they go through. (It’s) quite extensive about how to budget, how to avoid predatory lending, how to take care of the home, and how to be a good neighbor,” Schultz explained.

There’s another 10 hours on budgeting that follows. But Schultz said it’s worth the effort when she gets to hand the keys to a Habitat home to its new owners.

“A dedication is always a wonderful thing, because you get to see that first time, wide-eyed, this is mine, I can’t believe it’s mine (look); to when you come to someone like Miss Ruby’s house and you get to see her pride in ‘Yeah! This is mine and look what I’ve built!’ and it’s been here for 20 years,” she said.

Ruby Akridge has been in her house long enough, in fact, that she recently reached a very important milestone for any homeowner.

“In 2014, I paid off my mortgage, and I understand that’s something that a lot of people never do,” she said.

Terri Shultz said it takes about 200 volunteers up to 5000 to complete a Habitat home. She noted that the charity is always looking for more helping hands, even if those hands have never held a hammer. She said habitat also needs donations and property to build on.

To learn more about Habitat for Humanity of Rutherford County, visit rchfh.org