The sun had yet to rise on Morning Drive and nothing more than a concrete slab stood on the lot when the project countdown began. Thirty hours later, Ram Thapa and his family received the keys to their new move-in ready Habitat for Humanity home in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Displaced from their native Bhutan in 1992, Ram, his wife, Nar, and their infant daughter, Dhan, spent the next 18 years in a refugee camp in Nepal. Their two sons, Om and Bishal, were both born in the camp, and the bamboo and thatch hut was the only home they knew. On the day of the build, the Thapas worked alongside volunteers to complete their future home in 30 hours.
Yesterday when I came here, there wasn’t a home here. When I came this morning, now I see the home. I’ve never seen anything like this!– Dhan Thapa, daughter of Habitat homeowner
The 30-hour blitz build in Reid Park kicked off Habitat Charlotte’s 30th anniversary, a celebration made possible with a $250,000 grant from Lowe’s and the assistance of more than 100 Lowe’s Heroes employee volunteers from 28 area stores.
“The unexpected payoff this morning is to watch that family come up and begin to see what they could only dream of happening before,” said Paris Lytle, store manager at Lowe’s of Central Charlotte. “What an amazing sight it is to watch their faces today.”
The $250,000 grant was part of Lowe’s $1 million contribution to Habitat’s Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative (NRI). Following the completion of the 30-hour build, Lowe’s Heroes and community volunteers participated in community cleanup and renovation projects for several months. Through NRI, Lowe’s and Habitat are able to serve more families and meet a larger number of critical needs in communities.
Habitat Charlotte has repaired or built about 50 homes in Reid Park, where nearly one third of the owner-occupied homes are Habitat houses. Habitat’s plan is to invest $7 million in the neighborhood. “They are turning neighborhoods around. And when you do that, you’re helping the whole city,” said Charlotte City Council member David Howard.
The Thapa family came to Charlotte three years ago. They were living in a small two-bedroom apartment and couldn’t imagine the day when so many people would come together to make their dream of owning a home a reality.
Dhan said the sight of Lowe’s Heroes swarming around their four-bedroom home hard at work was something she will never forget.
“I feel like my dream’s come true,” she said. “Now I have my own home. I’m so grateful.”