They are a few of the same sentiments he feels toward a nation that welcomed him 11 years ago from his small Western Pacific homeland of Polap, one of many small islands that comprise the nation of Micronesia.
Such words, and such endearing sentiments, include:
Three others, perhaps the most important to the Hetiback family and especially to a country long built on such a foundation, would include “God,” “Habitat” and “Thank you.”
Each reader must rank the importance of each in his or her own life. In the case of Sylvester and Stella Hetiback today, each could be considered interchangeable. It is because — as they believe so very strongly — that Opportunity, Education, Jobs, Freedom, Security, Blessing, Excited, Friends and Neighbors are all made possible in this land called America, home to a proud people borne upon this principal, “... one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
The Hetibacks and their four beautiful children — Sylvanna, 17; Veston, 14; Vesrod, 13; and Stelson, 7 — last week became the 100th family to earn the keys to their new Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland home. Our use of the word “earn” comes as no accident. Like the first 99 Cleveland and Bradley County families, the Hetibacks worked alongside willing volunteers to construct their home.
They measured boards.
They learned to make precise cuts.
They pounded nails.
They cleaned work debris and construction garbage every day.
They raised walls.
They cleaned and they cleaned and they cleaned.
Before day one of construction, they completed countless pages of applications. They worked diligently with a family advocate representative for weeks. They conducted themselves patiently and responsibly through in-depth, sometimes tiring, interviews. They answered questions. They completed financial planning courses. They learned home management and residential maintenance skills.
They adopted the ways of America in hopes that Americans would accept their arrival and would embrace their coming as good neighbors and responsible citizens.
And now, like any U.S. homeowner, they are making monthly mortgage payments toward fulfillment of their American Dream.
As with all Habitat for Humanity houses, it is modest. But its quality is unquestioned. Its longevity ranks among the finest, and the biggest, of residential structures in our Cleveland and Bradley County hometown. It was built by some of the same hammers, hearts and hopes that have led other local families into their own private castles.
Sylvester said it best at Habitat’s historic 100th Home Dedication Luncheon last Wednesday, “No matter what country we are from, every man wants to provide his own home, to give his family security.”
Thanks to the strength of a dream, and the kindness of strangers, Sylvester Hetiback has given this gift to those he loves most.
We welcome the Hetibacks home.
We thank Habitat for Humanity, and its growing league of believers, for making a difference in the life of another deserving family whose loved ones worked faithfully to light a path into their own New World.