More MS news articles for September 2000

'I could have been out on the streets,' says disabled woman moving into Habitat house

Times Staff Writer

The shutters and front door of Marcia Moore's new house will be painted green.

She said green is the color of new life, and that is what the house at 2712 Wilson Drive represents. A brand new, happy life. A complete break from an unhappy relationship. A move toward ownership and independence.

When completed, Moore's house will be almost identical to six others on that stretch of street. The floor plan, square footage and siding color are similar. The difference will be the color of the front door.

They are all homes built by Habitat for Humanity. Moore's house is the most recent ''blitz build,'' and the bulk of the work will be finished by Sunday. Odds and ends will completed in the following weeks, and Moore hopes to eat Thanksgiving dinner there.

Like other Habitat for Humanity recipients, Moore donated 300 hours of sweat equity to the organization plus a $500 down payment. Unlike other recipients, Moore has completed these requirements while assisted by a wheelchair or cane.

She has the rare distinction of suffering from muscular dystrophy and multiple sclerosis. Either disease is debilitating. In concert, they are overwhelming, although that is not a word Moore uses often.

''Honey, I know I've been blessed,'' she said. ''I am 42, a single mother, disabled, and I work part-time. But I'm getting a house. I'm getting a house that will be mine.

''You can't tell me I'm not blessed by God.''

Work on Moore's house was slowed by midweek rains, but she didn't complain. Instead, she cried when she thought about the volunteers - people she knows and people she doesn't know - working to provide a home for her and Amanda, her 14-year-old daughter.

The two currently pay $295 for a small, one-bedroom apartment. When they move into the three-bedroom, wheelchair-accessible house with a towering sweet gum tree in the front yard, their mortgage payments will run $250 to $300, including escrow.

It was a year ago that Moore was first told that home ownership was not an impossibility for her. She's a sales associate at McRae's in Parkway City Mall, and she overheard a Habitat volunteer chatting with Moore's supervisor about an orientation meeting.

''I told the volunteer I was interested in owning my own home, but I never thought that I could,'' Moore said. ''She told me it was easier than I thought.''

Moore gathered tax returns, proof of employment and other documents. Then she completed her application. Then she waited.

In early spring, she was notified that Habitat for Humanity would build her house. Her employer gave complete support. Moore was given the necessary time off for the blitz build, plus the store raised money for Habitat for Humanity, and her co-workers have used annual leave time to work on the house.

''It's not a giveaway,'' she said. ''It's a partnership to achieve a dream that otherwise could not have happened. Not for me.''

Two years ago, Moore said she fled from an unhappy relationship with her husband with nothing more than her daughter and the clothes on their backs. Her daughter spent her 12th birthday in a shelter.

''I wanted to give Amanda something to be proud of,'' Moore said. ''She's so good to me. The rain makes my bones and muscles feel like they're on fire, and Amanda gets me going on mornings like these.''

Soon, the good daughter will have her own bedroom. Courtesy of a local furniture store, she'll have a new bed to replace the rickety one on which she now sleeps. Because it's her own room, she'll paint it blue and then paint clouds on top of that.

''I wasn't just in need,'' Moore said, clutching the hand of Habitat for Humanity family services coordinator RaDonna Ridner Thurman. ''I was in desperate need. It is the mercy of God. I could have been out on the streets, and I know that.''

The blitz build will end with a celebration Sunday at 7 p.m. at St. John's AME Church at 229 Church Street.

© 2000 The Huntsville Times.