A new home for a new life

Positive energy builds a home
Joann Carpenter with arms outspread at the building site of her new home
Carpenter at the building site of her Habitat for Humanity home.

With a bright smile and an infectious laugh that fills the room, Joann Carpenter radiates positive energy everywhere she goes. At her home dedication ceremony, Habitat for Humanity staff commented that her spirit and pleasant demeanor made it easy to collaborate on building her new home. Their efforts finally came to fruition in February 2021, as Carpenter took the keys and moved in with her family. Celebrating with Carpenter at the home dedication was her son Denzel, her sister Rose, and her cousin Sonya, and she mentioned her excitement about having her three sons and seven grandchildren visit her in her new home. Carpenter worked on the project with Habitat with persistence and dedication, completing 250 hours of sweat equity including finance and home-care classes. Now she and the Habitat for Humanity team are ecstatic that her vision of becoming a homeowner has finally been realized.

Transforming neighborhoods

Habitat for Humanity is a global nonprofit organization dedicated to providing affordable homeownership opportunities to our hardworking Durham neighbors. Carpenter’s home is just one of 16 newly-constructed houses in East Durham built by the organization. Due to COVID-19, there were far fewer people helping to build the house than usual, but the tireless work of Habitat for Humanity of Durham staff and a handful of community volunteers helped this project advance remarkably quickly. Habitat for Humanity of Durham plans to build 21 more homes on Durham Housing Authority lots on the neighboring streets of Plum and Morning Glory in the near future.

Joann Carpenter outside of her newly finished home
Carpenter and her newly finished Habitat for Humanity home.
A longstanding partnership

Duke’s partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Durham is long standing. With support from numerous divisions across campus including Duke Chapel, the Health System, and the Duke Student Habitat for Humanity Chapter, the University has sponsored more than 20 homes over the last 21 years. Assistant vice president of the Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership and Community Development, Mayme Webb-Bledsoe, has extensive experience working with Habitat for Humanity of Durham, and her words at Carpenter’s virtual home dedication were touching. “Over the last 20 years I’ve watched Habitat pretty much transform areas and neighborhoods in Durham,” she said. “This organization is all about building community, and at the same time they are all about building a sense of belonging. It’s almost like you get a new family when you get a Habitat [home].”

Happiness found

Joann Carpenter is a welcome addition to the Habitat family, and this project has been a successful partnership between Duke and Habitat to assist in providing safe and affordable housing to members of the Durham community. When asked during the virtual home dedication what she is most looking forward to in the wake of becoming a homeowner, Joann let out an echoing laugh and exclaimed, “being happy, living in my home for the rest of my life!”

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