Habitat for Humanity breaks ground on Copperas Cove
By LYNETTE SOWELL
By mid-February 2018, if the weather cooperates and the volunteers turn out, the Wilbanks family of Copperas Cove will be turning the key to their brand-new home at 2012 Wanda St.
On Saturday morning, the family of five broke ground on a vacant lot where their four-bedroom, two-bath home will be built, thanks to Fort Hood Area Habitat for Humanity.
William and Amanda Wilbanks, along with their two daughters and son, Ashley, Dylan and Ivan have lived in Copperas Cove since 2008. William is an over-the-road truck driver, gone for six to eight weeks at a time, and Amanda works for CCISD in Child Nutrition at Williams-Ledger Elementary School.
Kenneth Cates, executive director of the Fort Area Habitat for Humanity, talked about the process the family went through to qualify for the home and called it “perfect timing” when the lot on Copperas Cove became available.
“As they were accepted into the program, this lot was presented to us for purchase for a very low cost, with a partnership from Neighborworks and TSAHC, the Texas State Affordable Housing Consortium,” Cates said.
Meadows Management Corporation also funded $65,000 for the build in Copperas Cove.
The family’s journey to a new home began nearly a year ago when they attended a prequalification meeting at the YMCA in Copperas Cove. Since 2008, William and Amanda have lived in Copperas Cove, but things started going south with the owner-financed home they’d purchased. Amanda said they’d put $2,000 down on the house and were paying 10 percent interest.
“We were doing it. Then he changed jobs, my mom got sick, and then things started breaking in the house, the plumbing, electrical problems, the foundation. It became way too much. Then I called Habitat because someone suggested they might be able to help us fix it,” said Amanda. After attending the prequalifying briefing, their home was inspected and found to be unlivable and a new build was recommended.
“It’s been wonderful. It’s all about God’s timing. You can’t rush something like this. We got approved last November 17 and in January we got the ball rolling, getting our sweat equity done, trying to get my husband home and out here.” In total, the Wilbanks family put in 275 hours of sweat equity and 200 hours of volunteering, such as at fundraisers and helping other families with their home builds.
Wilbanks has encouragement for others considering going into the Habitat program.
“I want them to be able to make it. So many drop out because they feel there’s no hope, that it’s too much. But they can do it,” Wilbanks said.
Doug Vance, pastor of Heart of Texas Church of Harker Heights, prayed for the family and the project and spoke Scriptures of blessing over them.
Mayor Frank Seffrood was present for the groundbreaking and talked about the build in Copperas Cove.
“This is something that defines community, and Copperas Cove is known for that definition. Activities like this, presentations like this, are just the exclamation point at the end of a statement – we are family! We are a city for family living,” Seffrood said. “I’ve been associated with a lot of activities, but these are the ones I remember forever. I don’t gussy up like this for a one-day event. This is a life changing event.”
After the remarks the Wilbanks family, along with two of Amanda’s sisters, picked up golden shovels and turned the first bit of soil where the new house will be built. This is the sixth area Habitat groundbreaking this year, Cates said.
Once the foundation is set, Cates said the average build is from 14-18 weeks.
“It will all depend on the weather holidays, everything else. If we can get the volunteers out here, it can get it done more expediently,” Cates said. “For our Killeen and Temple builds, some employers sponsor a day and come in to do a team build. Bob Mills, Dennis Eakin, sent teams to build. It’s okay if nobody has construction experience. We’ll teach you and get you working.
“I like to say to businesses, ‘Why pay $10,000 for someone to come to your company and do a PowerPoint on team building? Let your employees come out here and pay them for the day and they can team build.”
Cates said volunteers are welcome to help with the Wilbanks home build. Interested volunteers are welcome to contact Cates at the area Habitat office located at 2601 Atkinson Ave. in Killeen or call 254-680-4007.