A new home for Miss Claudia
Claudia Doster, known by most people as Miss Claudia, spent 51 years in her last home.
Before Saturday morning, she lived with her two daughters in one room of a rundown home, part of which had been condemned.
Thanks to Joe Penegar, the Union Baptist Association and Union Habitat for Humanity, she received the keys to a new four-bedroom, handicap-accessible, 1,300 square-foot home Saturday morning.
Doster, 78, has lived in Union County her entire life. She spent most of her life doing housework. Her old house belonged to her husband’s family. He worked for many years, but eventually became too ill to keep up with the necessary repairs.
Before the Habitat home was in the works, Doster said she was looking for a rental home.
“Something’s got to be done,” she said. “I can’t live like this.”
When she was told that Habitat for Humanity and volunteers from across the county were raising money and building her a new home, she said she was surprised. She said she did not tell too many people about it at first, since she did not want to jump the gun.
“It feels good,” she said, when asked about standing in her new home. “I need to get used to it.”
She will live in the house with her son and daughter.
“I want my children to be happy and everything,” she said. She added that they did not have much to give them growing up.
Her daughter Lana, who came to the ceremony, said she was happy for her mother.
Miss Claudia’s room has a nice bed with a quilt and paintings made for her by members of the community. She pointed to a nice bureau that she got to pick out for her clothes.
Their old home will be torn down in about a week. Habitat for Humanity will oversee the clearing and then do whatever landscaping work needs to be done. Doster said she may put in a garden in the space, or a place to park a car.
Whatever can be recycled from the old house will be recycled and they will have time to gather anything they want out of it.
Union Habitat Executive Director Mike Reece said this sort of thing rarely happens. Most Habitat home owners come through an application process. Many are on a waiting list, though Doster’s home was “fast-tracked” due to the need.
“It’s just the right thing to do,” Reece said.
It took about three months to build the house. Funding and volunteers came from the Union Baptist Association along with other community fundraisers. Union Habitat coordinated the build.
“It really was a true partnership,” Reece said. “This is really ideal in terms of how Habitat works.”
Reece said they enjoy referrals and enjoy making partnerships with churches.
Like all Habitat homes, it is compliant with Energy Star and North Carolina Green standards.
The community turned out in full to celebrate Miss Claudia’s family and their new home. Chick-fil-A, WhatsWaterIce of the Carolinas and other businesses came, along with members of the Union Baptist Association, volunteers and others. They helped bring new supplies into the new home and many of them offered warm congratulations and hugs to the lady of the house.
Miss Claudia sat quietly and humbly, grateful for the volunteers, grateful for the community and grateful for the air conditioning on a hot June day.