Lifelong South County residents Cora and Jason Stone and their sons Jason Jr., 6, and Elijah, 3, moved out of a basement apartment in West Kingston at Jason’s boyhood home and into the first completed home in a South County Habitat for Humanity four-house development, Old North Village.
The yellow, three-bedroom house with a welcoming front porch played host to a crowd of well wishers on Sept. 8 when it was dedicated. URI President David M. Dooley welcomed everyone and URI Chaplains, the Rev. Juliet Bongfeldt from the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd and the Rev. Matthew Glover of the Catholic Center, said the opening and closing prayers, respectively. Student representatives from the Habitat Student Group, the Interfraternity Council, and the Panhellenic Association spoke and music played as the Stone family realized what many consider the American dream – home ownership.
“Habitat’s whole philosophy is ‘a hand up, not a hand out,’ ” said the Rev. Lynn Baker-Dooley, who has been involved with Habitat since the early 1980s. The wife of President Dooley, she embraced the opportunity to co-chair the year-long Building Homes Campaign for the North Road project. “Having this project so close to campus really brings it into our neighborhood and made it very easy for our students to be involved from start to finish.”
The South County Habitat Chapter, which was founded in 1990 with URI Student Habitat coming into existence soon after, doesn’t donate homes. New homeowners will buy their homes, paying what it costs to create the dwelling with a 25-year, 0-percent mortgage, and they will contribute 450 hours of sweat equity to the property, and pay taxes. Habitat selects homeowners, who must live locally and be employed, based on different criteria, taking into consideration their current living situation.
“We are so grateful to have received this amazing opportunity. Our lives will be better now because of the efforts and hard work of the URI staff and students and South County Habitat for Humanity and their many volunteers,” Cora Stone said. “I am proud that we got the URI sponsored home. We both grew up here in South Kingstown and to have our children grow up in the same community in a home we can call ours is such an amazing feeling.”
Cora and Jason Stone are high school sweethearts who have lived in South County all of their lives. She is a nursing student at the Community College of Rhode Island and she hopes to transfer to URI next year. The new home is located on the north side of the URI campus and Cora looks forward to walking to her classes. Jason, who works at a local golf course, recently earned his hoisting engineer’s license. Cora participates in the Women’s Build Crew, and Jason works on the Men’s Build Crew.
Baker-Dooley, who delivered the dedication and blessing of the house, said many URI employees qualify to buy Habitat homes and that the University and the organization are connected on many levels. In the past year, nearly a dozen University fundraisers have been held to support the Building Homes Campaign, everything from a letter-writing campaign and a pound-a-nail contest to a range of Greek Philanthropy Week and URI women’s volleyball events.
The Stone’s new home is a URI sponsored house and the first of four houses that will be developed. South County Habitat Executive Director Lou Raymond said the second house, known as the Community House, is being framed and will be dedicated in late spring. It was funded by an anonymous family foundation. The third house planned is named Home for a Hero Veteran’s House and will become home to a disabled veteran who is a single father to five children. The fourth house planned is the Women’s Build House. Donations are still needed to complete the neighborhood and can be easily and safely made online at: http://www.uri.edu/habitat.
The $84,000 that the URI community raised provided funding for the Stone house and included $6,160 to construct one house in Haiti and one house in Chile. Baker-Dooley said students were excited about fundraising when they knew the money would help locally and also improve lives in other countries.
The mission of South County Habitat is to eliminate substandard housing by creating simple, decent, affordable homes in partnership with people in need in order to improve quality of life and provide greater security.
The Stone family moves into the first completed home in a South County Habitat for Humanity neighborhood on the University of Rhode Island campus. The home was sponsored by the URI community, which raised $84,000 to build the house, and President David M. Dooley and his wife, the Rev. Lynn Baker-Dooley, led the dedication festivities. L-R: The Stone family with Elijah, 3, Jason, Jason, Jr., 6, and Cora with Lynn Baker-Dooley and President Dooley.
Cora and Jason Stone and their sons Elijah, 3, and Jason Jr., 6 moved out of a basement apartment in West Kingston at Jason’s boyhood home and into the first completed home in a South County Habitat for Humanity four-house development, Old North Village, on the north side of the University of Rhode Island campus.
Hundreds of volunteers from the University of Rhode Island donated 2,550 work hours and raised $84,000 to build this three bedroom, South County Habitat for Humanity house.
Communications & Marketing photos by Michael Salerno Photography.