Coming together to empower a neighbor to build and own their own home? That's an extraordinary story that has almost become ordinary because Habitat for Humanity chapters live it every day.
But coming together to empower a neighbor to build and own a home specially equipped to enable him to live with dignity, safety and independence? That can't be overlooked.
A wreck on a snowy, icy North Dakota interstate paralyzed Matt Owens and made him dependent on a wheelchair for mobility. The Georgetown, Ky. resident was unable to afford a handicapped-accessible apartment. From trying to reach across the stove and counters to cook to getting himself in and out of a bath tub to simply brushing his teeth, maneuvering around his home was a daily struggle.
That's where Scott County Habitat for Humanity came in.
Executive Director Amy Preston saw a special opportunity in partnering with Owens to build a home.
"I do look for families like Matt who are responsible, who can take care of the things around them, who want stability and that chance of a better life," Preston said in an interview earlier this year with the Georgetown News Graphic. Having a living space he could simply live in – without so many struggles and hazards to overcome – had the power to dramatically improve Owens' life.
Owens' fully handicapped accessible home became the 34th home built in what's been dubbed "Habitat Village," a community of homes built by Habitat volunteers and families in Georgetown. The home features a ramp to the front porch, wide doorways to accommodate Owens' wheelchair, sinks with open space underneath that allow him to roll his wheelchair under, an open space under the counter next to the stove that allow him to prep and cook, and a fully accessible shower. The home is both safe and efficient for Owens.
"Scott County Habitat for Humanity has improved my life in ways that most people with never know," says Owens. "They helped me realize a dream I thought I never would have had. They built a house just for me, a paraplegic. What it has done for me in my life I can't ever repay or express how much it has changed it."
Owens has become a strong advocate for Scott County Habitat for Humanity. He frequently shares his story in an effort to encourage others to donate time and other resources to support their work.
We partner with Scott County Habitat for Humanity and other chapters around the state to build home for people like Matt Owens. Click here if you'd like to help.