By Susan Hardee Steger
September 15, 2021
It was a joyous day Saturday for when two families were given keys to townhouses constructed by Nassau Habitat for Humanity. Habitat volunteers gathered along with representatives from the Jaguars and the Community Foundation’s Delores Barr Weaver Legacy Fund, as Katrina Griffith and daughter Laniyah, and Shamika Alberta and daughter Syndney, were welcomed to their new homes.
Clergy members from First Presbyterian Church, Missionary Baptist Church, Prince of Peace Luther Church also participated.
Talented quilters gave beautiful quilts to the Alberta and the Griffith families. An anonymous giver from the neighborhood joined in with a gift of welcome mats and potholders, and the First Presbyterian Church gifted Bibles. Ashley Furniture allowed the homeowners to select furniture for their new homes.
We reached out to Shamika Alberta, one of the new homeowners. Alberta, who couldn’t stop smiling, is a graduate of Fernandina Beach High School and is employed by Omni Amelia Island. She and her daughter Syndney will occupy the first-floor unit. On dedication day so many people wanted Alberta’s attention, she felt “like a celebrity.”
Alberta applied to the organization in June or July of 2020 and received her acceptance in August that same year. “The application process went smoothly.” Now, almost a year later, she can move into her newly built home. While putting in the required “sweat equity,” Alberta learned to use a nail gun, install blinds, and hone her painting skills. She enjoyed working with and getting to know the volunteers.
The townhouses are the first to be constructed by Nassau Habitat for Humanity. Close to schools and recreational facilities, its location on Elm Street between Vernon and 11th is convenient for families. Soon, two more townhouses will be constructed on the adjacent lots.
Architect John Cotner, a long-time community volunteer, purchased the property and adjacent lots to build affordable housing. After being approached by Nassau Habitat, his vision for affordable housing became a reality. Cotner provided all the architectural work free of charge and gave careful thought to often-overlooked needs such as an outdoor shed for bicycles and a place for an outdoor grill.
The townhouses named “6 on Elm,” represent the 45th and 46th homes constructed by Nassau Habitat for Humanity, a non-profit dedicated to “eliminating substandard housing locally by providing homes for those in need.” Once the other townhouses are completed, the total number of constructed homes will reach 50.
The efforts made to bring affordable homes to our community require community support. To learn more about Nassau Habitat for Humanity, and how you can help, click here. Donations of land, services, time, and money are always appreciated.