Through dedication and hard work, dreams can come true.

For Celeste Dowell of Tennessee, Alissa Smith of North Carolina, and many others, the dream of affordable housing has become a reality thanks to their local Habitat for Humanity affiliates.

always building hope plywood measurement for home building

That’s what Celeste Dowell of Tennessee wants to demonstrate to her two daughters, and that’s what she told Wilson Habitat for Humanity about why she applied for their homeownership program.1 For her and many others, the dream of affordable housing has become a reality thanks to their local Habitat for Humanity affiliates.

Dowell’s home, dedicated in June of 2016, was fully funded by a grant from Publix Charities, along with 39 more Habitat for Humanity homes built throughout the Southeast last year. Then, in December, Publix Charities announced its largest gift to affiliates yet: a $5.5 million donation. As a result, over 120 affiliates are receiving support and 61 families are getting ready to move into their new homes.

Publix Charities began its support of Habitat for Humanity in 1989. Since then, the foundation has made many contributions to help people who have gone through a rigorous application process to obtain a place to call their own.

In addition to completing hours of “sweat equity” building their home or the homes of others, home applicants must demonstrate the ability to pay a mortgage and property taxes. They typically meet regularly with representatives of their Habitat for Humanity affiliate throughout the process. Some hold more than one job, and many have children at home, but successful applicants share a strong determination to make it work.

Alissa Smith of Gastonia, North Carolina received the exciting news on a Tuesday in early December 2016. Smith, a mother of four who had applied a few months prior, thought she was attending a routine meeting. Instead, she was led into a room with cake, balloons, and several Habitat for Humanity of Gaston County representatives and Publix associates waiting to deliver the news. “I’m still in shock,” Smith said after the surprise was revealed. “I don’t know anything else to say, other than thank you.”

The atmosphere in the room was very happy and supportive. “Alissa has worked so hard and is so worthy, and we are so proud of her,” said local Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Mary Harris.2

Fast forward to a warm day in April 2017, when volunteers in green shirts gather around to hear how they will contribute to the project before them: Their local Habitat for Humanity affiliate is now building a home funded by Publix Charities’ 2016 donation. The volunteers are Publix Super Markets associates, here to make a difference in their community. When the new residents move in, they will be greeted with a fully stocked pantry courtesy of Publix. The same goes for every home Publix Charities has sponsored for the year.

It takes time and materials to build a Habitat for Humanity home, but it also takes people who care. Publix Charities is proud to support affiliates throughout the Southeast as they continue to do great work, as well as to thank the Publix associates who will give their time and talents to help make a dream come true for the new homeowners.

“Every family deserves an opportunity to have a roof over their heads and food on their table,” said Carol Jenkins Barnett, president of Publix Charities. “My father established our foundation in 1966 with a strong desire to see our communities thrive.” Over fifty years later, his legacy of giving lives on.

1 “Wilson Habitat Dedicates 66th Home.” Habitat for Humanity of Greater Nashville.

2 Barrett, Michael. “Publix Pays $75,000 Mortgage for Single Mother’s New Habitat Home.” The Gaston Gazette: December 6, 2016.