After months of construction, the first two-story Garland County Habitat for Humanity home was completed and dedicated to its new owner Saturday morning.
The home was part of the 2022 Heels to Hammers event, which features mostly female builders, and was the location of a Weyerhaeuser team build, where several employees volunteered on the job site.
The keys to the home were given to Nikkie Ponder and her five children in a ceremony Saturday.
Each of Ponder's children, Lyric, Isaac, Harmony, Noah and Melody, get their own room in the home at 513 Grove St.
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"I want to thank everybody for coming out and helping with the donations and help build my house," Ponder said. "This is really and truly a blessing for me and my kids."
Ponder was approached by James Moore of Visitors Chapel AME Church when she met him at the Webb Community Center and he asked if she would accept him as her advocate.
"I'm happy that I am an advocate for Nikkie," said Moore, who is on the board of Garland County Habitat for Humanity.
Ponder has been earning sweat equity by helping at the Habitat ReStore and working on other Habitat for Humanity homes, as well as taking homeownership classes. All told, she had totaled 300 hours by the time of the ceremony.
Marking the 157th home by the organization, sponsors include Window Mart, Lowe's Home Improvement, First Security Bank, Sam's Club No. 4825, Karen Garcia, Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort, National Park Medical Center, Relyance Bank, Simmons First Bank, ReMax of Hot Springs Village, State Farm-Ike Eisenhauer Agency, McGraw Realtors, and Express Employment Professionals.
Additional sponsors included Chick-fil-A, ABI Insurance, 70 West Church of Christ, LongHorn Steakhouse, The Hotel Hot Springs, Diamond Lakes Federal Credit Union, Malvern National Bank, Rave Grafix, Kollective Coffee + Tea and Diamond Bank.
Ponder and her children received several gifts from sponsors and private donors including groceries, gift cards, books, dishware, paintings and decorations, quilts and afghans, tool kits, a cake plate, a Bible and a wooden bench for her front porch.
But maybe the most important gift is the community that surrounds her as she begins her new journey as a homeowner. With dedicated volunteers always nearby -- one lives a block away from her -- she noted she can call on her advocate and others for support.
"We know that God had planned a long, long time ago to give Nikkie this home," Moore said. "So now, because of God's love, he gave Nikkie this home and now it's going to be blessed, and we just want to thank God and Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit for that love that they have given to her."