Home for the Holidays

Published 11:59 am Tuesday, November 30, 2021

NATCHEZ — Chikeita Stewart and her family waited for a little more than a year to move into their new home thanks to Natchez-Adams County Habitat for Humanity. COVID delayed some of their progress but they were able to move into the home March 14, 2021. 

This Thanksgiving was the first time they were able to celebrate the holidays in their home. Halls are decked with red and green Christmas decorations. Stockings hang by the TV with care and a Christmas tree stood tall in the corner. 

“I’m going to cook Thanksgiving here for the first time,” Stewart said last week. “I’ve been excited for the holidays. I’m very excited. My kids are happy and they were able to get a dog. They have always wanted one.”

Zoey is a calm and friendly pit bull who wears a bedazzled collar. From her crate, puppy eyes greet any guests of the home as she stays quiet. In the front yard, she stays close to her family. A basketball goal and two cars fill the driveway. 

Habitat for Humanity is a Christian ministry providing homes to people to own. Families are selected for the homes via a selection process. Chikeita first learned she was chosen as a finalist to receive the home and then one day at Pearl Street Pasta, where she works, the call came. 

“I didn’t know who the number was from,” Stewart said. “I stepped outside and took the phone call. I was really happy. I cried tears of joy.” 

She said the house began to feel like a home from the moment she started building it. Each family who receives a home from Habitat for Humanity must put in 250 hours of work. She said she put in more than that to get the house ready. 

One morning, she got a text from Duncan McFarlane which said the home had passed inspection. In one weekend, she packed up and moved. Everyone in her family helped, she said. 

“Now I stay in a good neighbourhood,” Stewart said. “I don’t have to worry about my kids getting in trouble while I’m at work. We feel safe, it was for the best.”

She started decorating the holidays two weeks ago. “It is a good feeling to be able to call this our home,” Stewart said.