Groundbreaking ceremony held for local family’s future home

Published 5:46 pm Friday, May 16, 2014

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Habitat for Humanity officials, Lions Club members and others turned spades of earth at a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday at the future site of a new home for Josh, Charlene and Zachary Dennis of Clanton.

Later this summer, Charlene and Josh Dennis and their son Zachary will be able to move into a new home knowing that their hands, and the hands of numerous volunteers, built it specifically for them.

Habitat for Humanity of Autauga and Chilton Counties is partnering with the Dennis family, Clanton Lions Club and Clanton Evening Lions Club to build a house for the family to better accommodate Zachary, 19, who is wheelchair bound because of a car wreck he was in several years ago.

Charlene said Zachary has trouble moving around the family’s small trailer, and when Josh’s mother heard about Habitat through a friend, the family called HFHACC Executive Director Tom Risher to see if Habitat could help them find a home with more space.

Sure enough, help is on the way from Habitat and other local community groups.

“I’m so humbled we can partner with the Dennis family and build this home,” said Cristy Andrews, president of the Habitat board of directors, at a groundbreaking ceremony held at the future site of the home in Clanton on Tuesday.

Two features of the Dennises’ future home that will help Zachary are a walk-through shower and an exercise room, which he can use daily to improve his mobility.

Zachary suffered traumatic brain injury and partial paralysis from the wreck.

“I work out with him every morning and every night,” Charlene said. “I just won’t give up. He’s come a long way because of that.”

The wreck happened Dec. 3, 2012, two blocks from Zachary’s home in Clanton.

He was in his freshman year at Jefferson State Community College.

“He wasn’t … doing anything bad, he was just coming home from a friend’s house,” Charlene said. “He was a passenger.”

She said Zachary was hospitalized for three months, and his prognosis from doctors was not good.

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Zachary (far left), Josh and Charlene Dennis will help build their new home alongside Habitat for Humanity and community volunteers.

“They didn’t think he was going to make it, and he made it,” Charlene said. “We prayed, and he made it. We have our faith, and that’s what you’ve got to have.”

More than 20 people attended the ceremony, including the Dennises’ relatives, officials from Habitat and Lions Club, and 2014 Peach Queens.

Risher greeted all in attendance and passed the microphone to the Dennises’ pastor, Ken Brand, from Poplar Springs Church, who gave a call to worship and read Psalm 145:3–7, NIV: “Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts. They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty, and I will meditate on your wonderful works. They will tell of the power of your awesome works, and I will proclaim your great deeds. They will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness.”

Habitat Program Coordinator Lisa Green led the group in singing the hymn “For the Beauty of the Earth.”

Brand read more scripture, from Matthew 7:24–29, and Habitat volunteer Jack Smith gave a prayer of blessing.

Risher introduced the Dennis family, Lions Club officials (George Head, vice district governor for Lions Club District 34-B, and Clanton Lions Club members), affiliate and community leaders, and church partners.

“What a great beginning for a better end,” Clanton Lions Club President Tyson Elrod said. “We couldn’t be more thrilled to work side by side with you to build your home and meet your needs.”

As the family, officials and volunteers turned spades of earth, HFHACC Resource Director Allison White read aloud: “We praise you, O God, who is without beginning and end. You created the whole world and all that is in it. You entrust to us the care of the earth and the care of one another. With a symbolic gesture, we mark the beginning of the work. We also commit that we will finish what you have called us to do. In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

Construction on the Dennises’ new home is scheduled to start at the end of May and wrap up by mid-August.

Habitat will hold a dedication ceremony with the family when the home is finished.

“Thank you for Habitat,” Zachary said.