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UAB program builds Habitat for Humanity home in Clay

By Chris Yow
Editor

CLAY — Today, a house became a home for Monique Dixon and her three children, Donavon, Briana and Trenton. Following a dedication event at the home in Clay, UAB President Ray Watts handed Dixon the keys to a 3-bedroom home in Clay.
More than 560 UAB employees and students spent 2,572 hours volunteering to build the home for the Dixon family. In honor of the 25th anniversary of the American’s with Disabilities Act, this home is handicap-accessible for Monique’s son Donavon, who is wheelchair-bound. Construction began on the home Sept. 17 of this year and was supervised by Chris Cosby, a UAB School of Engineering graduate student.

The Dixon family and UAB employees, staff and volunteers in front of the Dixon’s new home. Photo by Chris Yow

The Dixon family and UAB employees, staff and volunteers in front of the Dixon’s new home. Photo by Chris Yow

This is a wonderful illustration of giving that has come full circle. Darlene (Dixon) Thomas is the mother of Monique. Thomas worked in Environmental Services at UAB Hospital for five years in the 1980s. She is proud of the contribution she made to UAB Hospital and the contributions she made to the Benevolent Fund.

Thomas said her mother taught her if you have something, you share with others. When Dixon told her mother that the UAB Benevolent Fund was sponsoring her house, Thomas was shocked.  

“The Benevolent Fund was at UAB when I worked there. I gave to it. It’s a good program that helps people,” Thomas said.

One of the volunteers on the project, David Saleeby is a CAS student at UAB and spoke during the ceremony.

I feel like I get back more from volunteering than I give. I’m sure this sentiment is shared

Donavon Dixon in the doorway of his new handicap-accessible home. Photo by Chris Yow

Donavon Dixon in the doorway of his new handicap-accessible home.
Photo by Chris Yow

among all volunteers,” he said. “Through Habitat, the American dream is made possible for hard-working people like Ms. Dixon who want to own a home and beyond. It was an awesome experience to watch this house be built. I’ve never seen people more willing to learn a new skill or get their hands dirty.”

Dixon said she was blessed to have so many people to help and volunteer, like Saleeby.

“Without the volunteers, this house wouldn’t be where it’s at. I’m just thankful to have a place to call our home. My heart is so full,” she said.

Karen Peterlin of Habitat Birmingham noted that the home Dixon was given is not free of charge, contrary to popular belief, and she will pay a mortgage. In addition to the mortgage, she will donate 300 hours of volunteer work on her house and others.

Habitat partners also donated books and a bookcase to the family. Used bookstore 2nd & Charles donated the family a $100 gift card, while the Literacy Center and Better Basics each donated books as well.

An emotional Monique Dixon with Briana and Trenton Dixon. Photo by Chris Yow

An emotional Monique Dixon with Briana and Trenton Dixon.
Photo by Chris Yow

“We partner with the Literacy Council, Better Basics and 2nd & Charles because we feel that every child should have access to good books and reading material,” Peterlin said.

After walking into her home, Dixon was shocked at the final project. Although she worked on the project alongside other volunteers, she was still very happy to see what it became.

“I knew it was going to be awesome; I just didn’t know it was going to be amazing. It’s a blessing,” she said.

Her handicapped son Donavon will be able to maneuver through the home in his chair with no problem, and Dixon is very proud of that. She will also now be living in the same neighborhood with her sister, allowing a dream of theirs to come to fruition.

“We always had that dream that we wanted to raise our children together and be in the same neighborhood, and we got it,” she said.

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