Standing at the construction site of her future home, Denise Gonzales knelt down and picked up a couple of small stones.
They would serve as a reminder, she explained, of a project that has completely changed her life.
Gonzales was one of a handful of new home buyers who attended the Habitat for Humanity groundbreaking ceremony Sunday afternoon at White Oak Villas near Lynch Street in Apex.
The project, which was initiated by White Oak Baptist Church, will include 16 new Habitat homes upon its completion.
“All of this is hard to put into words, it’s such a blessing,” said a smiling Gonzales, who will share the home with her 13-year-old son, Alexander Bates. “I can’t believe it’s really happening. You see a pile of dirt here today and soon it will be a new home. All these people who helped make it happen are a true blessing.”
The project is a community effort and can only succeed with the help of volunteers and sponsors.
But if the crowd of more than 75 people who attended the groundbreaking is an accurate indicator, that support shouldn’t be difficult to find.
“It’s exciting to see so many people here,” said Kevin Campbell, president of Habitat Wake. “Some of these groundbreaking ceremonies might only have five or ten people attend. So, we are off to a tremendous start.”
It may have been the long wait that generated so much interest. It is the first time since 1990 that Habitat has begun a project a town.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Ted Edwards, a member of the Habitat Wake board of directors. “So many people from this community have come together to make these 16 homes a reality. (The project) will be a blessing and a make a big difference. As an Apex resident, I’m proud to have this opportunity here in Apex.”
Rev. Charles Tyner of White Oak Baptist said his church adopted Apex several years ago as part of its mission to find homes for people in need.
Although the recession sidetracked those efforts, a new partnership with Habitat has re-energized the mission.
“We were doing well until the banks decided not to loan any more money,” said Tyner. “Then from somewhere, Habitat for Humanity showed up. I said, ‘Lord, thank you.’ We didn’t get to the promised land but Habitat for Humanity will take us there.
“We want people of this community to have a better life. It is our vision and now that dream has come true.”
“The partnership with White Oak has been blessed by God,” said Campbell. “It was meant to be.”
Apex Mayor Pro Tem Gene Schulze and Wake County Commissioner Phil Matthews also spoke at the ceremony. Both the town and county played crucial roles in getting the project underway.
“We’re really excited about this,” said Matthews. “God has really blessed us. There is no telling what we can (accomplish).”
Ten more potential home owners are still being sought. A home buyer information session will be held Saturday, Feb. 9 at 11 a.m. at the Apex Community Center, 53 Hunter St., Apex. For more information call John McIntyre at 919-744-2410.
Volunteers are also needed to help build the homes. To register visit http://habitatwake.volunteerhub.com/. Construction is planned to start in April.