Habitat cuts the ribbon on new Olde Town Village (April 30, 2011)
With the help of Habitat for Humanity, her mother’s example and her own determination, single mother Cynthia Cannon will soon be a first-time homeowner. The 29-year-old Atlantic Southeast Airlines flight attendant and her daughter, Cheyenne, 7, will also be the first residents on Hope Street in Habitat’s new Olde Town Village neighborhood.
The Stone Mountain native has been living in a Conyers Housing Authority apartment for the last five years. She moved to Conyers to be closer to her mother and sister after things didn’t work out with Cheyenne’s father. Before landing a position with ASA two years ago, the self-described “Jill of all trades” took classes at both Georgia State and Georgia Perimeter College and has worked as a patient care tech, promotional rep for Creative Loafing and shoe-shiner. Cannon credits her mother, Regina Breed, who raised two girls on her own, with providing a model of resilience and fortitude. At one point, Breed was working three jobs – bank teller, grocery cashier and gas station attendant – to keep a roof over her girls’ heads.
“She really made me realize no matter the situation you can get through it. I’m so thankful for her. She showed me and my sister what we’re capable of…she did whatever it took without complaining,” said Cannon.
Her mother and sister are invaluable as care-giving support for Cheyenne while Cannon is in the air or working towards the 200 hours of “sweat equity” Habitat requires of its homeowners. Cannon works both on the house and at Habitat’s store to this end. Something she is honored to do.
“It’s just amazing to me how many people who don’t even know you are so willing to help out,” she said.
Conyers Presbyterian Church is building Cheyenne a playhouse for their new yard. “She’s extremely excited and pretty much picked out the entire color scheme of our house. She loves going by to see the progress,” said Cannon.
It definitely takes a village to make the Village. According to Gene Hall, a former board member and advisor to HICOR (Habitat Interfaith Consortium of Rockdale), there were extensive infrastructure requirements began in 2006 before the neighborhood could be developed. Sewage and electrical lines were donated by GUCA (Georgia Utility Contractors) and roughly 30 companies donated materials, time and equipment. Major Hanks and his Heritage High School Junior ROTC spent many days clearing out lots and cutting trees. Hall estimates the houses’ cost around $70,000 - $50,000 of which HICOR raises from donations and store proceeds with $25,000 coming from national corporate partners. “We wear a lot of hats – we’re the banker, developer and contractor,” said Hall.
HICOR is currently taking applications for the second home lot. “A lot of applicants have the misconception we build the house and give it to them. What we do is build the house, and it’s interest free for them,” said HICOR’s President Marget Hall. Among many qualifications, the candidate must be a minimum one-year Rockdale resident, demonstrate ability to meet mortgage payments, have no bankruptcies in the last seven years and no criminal record.
Cannon says words can’t adequately express her gratitude for the individuals and church and corporate groups who show up every week constructing her home. For her, Habitat provided the impetus to take this step forward in life. “I wouldn’t say I deserved it more than anyone else, but I was ready to go for more and not be afraid to try to have more. Sometimes, when you’re doing things by yourself you get intimidated, and it’s scary to step out on faith and go after more because of fear you’ll lose it. It’s OK to want more out of life,” she said.
For information on the application process or volunteer opportunities, go to www.habitatrockdale.com or visit the Habitat Surplus Store at 1117 West Ave., open Fridays and Saturdays 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. or call 770-785-7675.