News-Sun photo by KATARA SIMMONS Mason Smoak's children Ellie, 4, and Landon, 7, help shovel dirt alongwith their grandparents and Highlands County dignitaries Saturday morning during the groundbreaking of Mason's Ridge in Sebring.
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published: Sunday, August 15, 2010
Families' dreams a reality as Mason's Ridge project begins
By SAMANTHA GHOLAR
SEBRING --The site grounds were clear and ready for volunteers to begin their work. The exposed layers of fresh earth and soil shifted underneath the crowd's feet.
In the early Saturday morning heat, a large group of dignitaries, sponsors and volunteers congregated beneath a tent in the Washington Heights community for the Habitat for Humanity's groundbreaking ceremony.
Families of the future homes were joined by dozens of volunteers and contributors as they all began work on the construction of Phase 1 of the Mason's Ridge Community.
Among the many faces in the crowd were local officials, Sheriff Susan Benton, Don Bates, Chairman of Highlands County Board of Commissioners, and Sebring City Councilman John Griffin.
The ceremony provided families with a dash of reality; their hopes finally being concrete and tangible.
"Vision without any action is a dream. But vision with action is no longer a dream, its reality. It changes the world," said Benton.
Benton and the HCSO were approached two years ago by Habitat development members about using the Washington Heights area for this community. "We are happy and proud to be a part of this," Benton said.
The foundation of the houses will began being laid today and the walls of the first few houses are expected to be up around Sept. 7, according to Habitat construction personnel.
This is the first time a community development has been created in the area in many years. Robert Saffold, president of the Washington Heights Citizens Committee, was pleased with the creation of the new community.
"We've been looking for something like this for 25 or 30 years. You don't know what this means to this community," said Saffold.
After many prayers and praises, Bates addressed the now emotional group. "It is a pleasure to be a part of such a magnificent change in this part of Sebring. Home ownership is something that we all aspire and strive for ... Habitat is providing that opportunity for these families."
Emotions continued to flow as director John Hawthorne delivered a heart-felt introduction to Edward and Anne Smoak, parents of Mason Smoak for whom the community is named.
"He's here," Edward Smoak said of his son. "This was always Mason's dream, we take no credit for it. He had a real passion for Habitat and he'd be tickled to see this." Mason's 4-year-old-daughter, Ellie, clung to her grandmother, smiling and dancing as the crowd applauded her father's legacy.
The volunteers, sponsors and families then threw on their hard hats and shoveled the first patches of ground following the Smoak's and a few others' remarks.
The joy of the Smoak family and gratitude of the Habitat families were apparent in each of their faces.
That morning one family's dream of providing shelter for the less fortunate, had just become 80 families' reality of home ownership.
MASON'S RIDGE (by: Ariel Madden - 1/31/2011)
I'm going to be one of the home owners (house number 6) and his project is turning out beautifully. I'm so proud to say I will be living in this community!
housing (by: your home owner in MASON'S RIDGE - 8/23/2010)
This not another project this is giving family's the help to owner there owner home's, Yes we know how much going into it I help build one from gound up, and plained to help build mine and much more soon, some people are just jealous , it too many years and long hour's to get this far
Mason Smoak (by: Caroline - 8/23/2010)
What a beautiful tribute to a wonderful man.
Here we go again. (by: Jeff - 8/15/2010)
I cant wait to see just how our tax dollars are going to be wasted on another low income project. I have never seen any of these projects work, because the people who get these homes dont know how much work it takes to own one, so they never put forth the effort ot keep them up. IE Youth care lane project for one! It will be another drug infested area in a year after it is built, the only positive is that the Law enforcement will have them all in one area instead of spread all over a couple of blocks.
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