Habitat Cleveland is now 20 years old.
Whirlpool Corporation is now 100 years old.
In an historic partnership, the two are teaming to construct a house for a disabled grandmother — Vickie Ledford — and the 12- and 16-year-old granddaughters she is raising.
The 20-day project is being billed the Whirlpool Blitz Build and it is honoring the special anniversaries for both organizations. Whirlpool employee volunteers will work on-site on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays for the next three weeks. The home’s dedication is set for Nov. 11, which is the official start of the year-long Whirlpool anniversary celebration.
“I’m excited ... I’m nervous ... and I’m very happy,” Ledford said this morning prior to the start of the ceremony. “I drive by this (Century Village) subdivision all the time. I couldn’t believe how fast they built the foundation!”
A Habitat for Humanity core team spent the last few days “laying the foundation” for the Whirlpool house so that the raising of walls could begin today.
Ledford, who has been working with Habitat to finalize the application and screening process for the past year, said today is a dream-come-true for her.
“I am just so excited!” the grandmom exclaimed.
She has raised her oldest granddaughter since infancy and brought the second into her home about three years ago.
“I can’t hardly wait (for the house’s completion)!” she beamed. “It can’t come fast enough!”
Ledford currently lives in an apartment complex with her granddaughters; however, she doesn’t allow them to go outside unless she accompanies them. She described the apartment complex owners as “wonderful people,” but acknowledged she is sometimes concerned about her small family’s safety and security.
In spite of her disability, the grandmom said she will be on-site a lot over the next few weeks in order to put in her “sweat equity” hours required by Habitat.
She hooked up with Habitat originally at the urging of friends.
“They told me to go to Habitat for Humanity,” Ledford said. “I just thank the Lord for putting me in the right direction. I give all my thanks to Him. He made this happen.”
She also thanks the Whirlpool crew of volunteers whose army of builders number about 125.
“These volunteers are awesome,” she said. “I just thank them so much for what they are doing. If there was anything I could do to repay them I would. I’m so appreciative to everybody.”
One of those to whom she is thankful is Dicky Walters, plant leader at Whirlpool Cleveland Division who spoke briefly at this morning’s ceremony. Walters acknowledged the company’s team of volunteers and the fact that they represent three Cleveland-based functions — the manufacturing plant, the call center (Whirlpool Customer eXperience Center) and the engineering division (Whirlpool Cleveland Cooking Technology Center).
Today’s ceremonies included a particularly special moment for a pair of Habitat homeowners — Andy and Natacha Hudgins, who conducted a symbolic note-burning for their own house on the same day that construction began for Ledford’s house. Another interesting twist is that Hudgins is a Whirlpool Cleveland Division employee.
Walters referenced the symbolism in his comments.
“Today, we have witnessed the ‘bookends’ of the Habitat story,” Walters said. “On one bookemd, Andy Hudgins has paid off his mortgage and has burned the note. On the other end, Vickie Ledford and her family are about to begin their story by helping to build their house.”
Walters said he speaks on behalf of all Whirlpool volunteers who will have a hand in building the Ledford home.
“We look forward to the next three weeks of hard work,” Walters stated. “We look forward to building a quality product just like we do everyday. We look forward to the house dedication on Nov. 11. And most of all, we look forward to helping provide the Ledford family a place to call home.”
Ceremonies also included Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland and Habitat for Humanity board members and representatives.
Additional coverage (article and photographs) of today’s historic event will be provided in Friday’s edition of the Cleveland Daily Banner.