Habitat For Humanity dedicates home for Wilbanks family in Copperas Cove
By BRITTANY FHOLER
Mandy Wilbanks got the keys to her new forever home Saturday morning thanks to the Fort Hood Area Habitat for Humanity.
After a year and half since the groundbreaking, the four-bedroom, two-bathroom house at 2012 Wanda St is just about finished and was available for Wilbanks and her three children to walk through before the dedication ceremony Saturday morning.
The house is a brand-new build on what had been a vacant lot in an established neighborhood. The lot was purchased at a low cost from Neighborworks and the Texas State Affordable Housing Consortium (TSAHC) and the house itself was built with financial assistance from the Cove Meadows Management Corporation.
Prior to Habitat for Humanity, the Wilbanks were living in a 3-bedroom home with warped floors and only one bathroom for their family of five. Their house was too far gone for repairs and they were recommended for a new build.
Wilbanks got to select the style of floors, cabinets and countertops of the new house. As a family, the Wilbanks put in a total of 550 hours of “sweat equity”.
Wilbanks said that seeing the house and knowing it is hers gives her a sense of achievement.
“I’ve always wanted this,” Wilbanks said. “I’ve had to work for it. I’ve had to go through a lot of struggling and a lot of you know just situations that I went through. With the program, it really helps you with self-reliance. You have to work for something that you really, really want.”
Though the room doors don’t have doorknobs just yet and there are still final touches left to do, Wilbanks and her kids had already picked out their individual rooms Saturday morning.
Saturday’s dedication ceremony saw friends and family members, volunteers and members of the board of directors for Habitat for Humanity as well as members of the community come out to share in the Wilbanks family’s joy.
Ken Cates, CEO of the Fort Hood Area Habitat for Humanity, shared verses from the Bible as he blessed the home.
“As we talk about blessing the house itself or the family and the home, in the book of Isaiah, it talks about how many people can build a home, can build a house but remember that God is the builder of everything,” Cates said. “Without that, without God being the builder of everything, we wouldn’t have had folks come together to bless this home and build this home, put it together for the family, so we thank all the volunteers.”
Cates encouraged Wilbanks and her family to continue in their faith and brought up a phrase Wilbanks had said throughout the whole process- attributing everything to God’s timing.
“It’s God’s ground, God’s cornerstone and with the solid foundation that you and the family have provided with your kids, we have no doubt that this will stand against anything,” Cates said.
Adam Martin, the former president of the Board of Directors for Habitat for Humanity, was the guest speaker and shared how the project for a home in Copperas Cove actually began years earlier, in 2011. Although his term ended in 2015, Martin explained that he kept in touch with Cates and constantly asked about the project.
“I would have loved for this to have happened six years ago but as they say God has a plan,” Martin said. “His timing doesn’t always match up with our schedule and expectations. More importantly, I think this home was specifically for the Wilbanks family.”
During the ceremony, Wilbanks was presented with the key to her home, a water hose, a tool kit, a fire extinguisher and a Bible.
She shared her story of how this all came to be.
Wilbanks, who works in the cafeteria at Clements/Parsons Elementary, and her husband, William, an over-the-road truck driver currently in Missouri, moved from Alabama to Copperas Cove in 2008 with their daughters, Ashley, 19, Dylan, 17 and Ivan, 13, to be closer to her mother and sisters. In 2012, her mother was diagnosed with lung cancer and Wilbanks quit her job to help take care of her. In 2015, her mother passed away. Wilbanks said that before her mother passed away, she had begun working for Copperas Cove Independent School District as a crossing guard in front of Martin Walker Elementary, just around the corner from what would become her forever home, on the corner of Miranda and Henry. She said she prayed for a break and wished she could live in the area.
“Well, He was listening, because right here now today in 2019, I’m standing in my driveway where I have the key to my front door and I’ll always look up that hill and know what I had to go through to get down to this hill,” Wilbanks said.
Wilbanks also read aloud a letter from her mother, written just before she passed away.
“It’s all about God’s timing. My mom always said to put God first in everything you do, have patience no matter what, what’s going on in your life, if you have Him, you’re gonna get through it,” Wilbanks said.
After hearing Martin’s story on the project from years prior, Wilbanks said, “God knew right then it was for me. He knew when in 2008, I moved from Alabama to here. He knew that this was where I was supposed to be.”
The Wilbanks’ home marks the 90th house built by the Fort Hood Area Habitat for Humanity in total and the 73rd home west of Bell County.
In addition to home builds, Habitat for Humanity also does repairs, revitalizations, community cleanups, park cleanups, handicap ramps and is working on a 26-home community in Temple for homeless veterans.
Those interested in helping out with Habitat for Humanity are invited to contact Cates at the area Habitat office located at 2601 Atkinson Ave. in Killeen or call 254-680-4007.