Habitat gives keys to proud homeowner

Published 2:16 am Sunday, May 11, 2008

NATCHEZ — Chantel Marsaw just couldn’t quit smiling Saturday, when for the first time, she gave tours of the first house she can claim as her own.

The recipient of a new house built by Habitat for Humanity, Marsaw was only too glad to sign the papers for the house.

“I still can’t believe it,” she said.

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Though the house, located on Smith Street, is currently empty — Marsaw wants to get new furniture to go with her new house — it’s still simply astonishing that it’s hers, she said.

“I kept thinking, ‘I’m ready to move in, I’m ready to move in, I’m ready to move in,’” Marsaw said. “Then, they sent me a letter last Saturday to be ready for this Saturday, and I thought, ‘Oh no, I’m not ready.’”

But the 29-year-old Wal-Mart employee, who worked two jobs for most of the time the house was being built, was ready when she was handed the keys.

During the blessing of the home, Marsaw sang the song “God is Good, All the Time.”

Marsaw has four daughters, Van’Triece, 13, Van’Nesia, 10, Shan’Torre, 8, and Cor’Nelria, 6.

And they’re pretty proud of their new home, too.

“I like it because we never had a house like this, and people took the time to help us when they didn’t have to,” Van’Nesia said. “It’s really pretty.”

Cor’Nelria was so excited she couldn’t stand still.

“I love it, I love it, I love it,” she said, spinning in circles on the front porch.

Habitat for Humanity President Andrew Calvit said that after 12 years of work with the organization, it still hasn’t gotten old.

“We enjoy the part where we see the excitement on the family’s face when we give them the keys,” Calvit said.

Habitat for Humanity builds homes with an all-volunteer force, and once a family is selected every adult in the home has to work 250 hours on the project.

When it is completed, the organization finances the house with a zero percent mortgage for 25 years to keep the payments as low as possible.

Marsaw’s new residence is the 11th house Habitat for Humanity has completed in Natchez. It is the fourth Habitat house built on Smith Street.