Akins family gets a life-long wish with home from Habitat for Humanity

Rev. R.B. Holmes presented a Bible to the Akins family during Saturday’s ceremony in Gretna.
Photo by St. Clair Murraine

By St. Clair Murraine

Outlook staff writer

GRETNA – Delores Akins was speechless. Her husband, John, was overcome with pride.

The Akins expressed their emotion as they realized a day that they’d waited for since Hurricane Michael ruined the house they lived in last fall.  Last Saturday, they were presented with the keys to a five-bedroom, two bathroom house built by Big Bend Habitat for Humanity and a volunteer pool led by Bethel Missionary Baptist Church.

Many of the volunteers were in the crowd that gathered for dedication ceremony at the new home in Gretna.

“I can’t express it,” said an obviously grateful Delores Akins. “I’m overwhelmed with joy just having the key to my own home.”

Her husband was at her side throughout the morning, along with their six grandchildren who will also share the home.

“It’s like my dream come true,” said John Akins. “This is what my wife and I have been wanting for years and years. Paying rent is one thing but when you own something and you’re paying it yourself, that’s a great feeling.”

Habitat for Humanity identified the Akins for the home earlier this year after the city of Gretna donated the land. Bethel Missionary Baptist set the wheels in motion for partial funding of the construction with a $65,000 donation that Rev. R.B. Holmes beseeched his congregation to give.

Several of the volunteers and supporters of the Akins’ gathered on the porch of their new home following a dedication ceremony Saturday.
Photo by St. Clair Murraine

The money was raised within a month.

“Bethel Missionary Baptist Church is a community oriented church,” said James Mathews, a member of Bethel. “We believe in doing the work of God and it was said here today; love thy neighbor as thy self and we basically try to live out what God has laid out for us in the Bible.”

During the ceremony, Holmes presented the Akins with a Bible.

From the outset of the project, the church stayed at the forefront, recruiting volunteer led by Victor Wiley. Many of the church’s millennials made it a weekend project. They were assisted one weekend by members of the FAMU men’s basketball team.

Wiley didn’t give it a second thought when he was asked to coordinated the volunteers. He didn’t miss a weekend, except when he was hospitalized for a week with chest pain.

“This is what I love to do so when pastor asked me, I thought it was an honor,” Wiley said. “Yes, it required a lot of effort and organization but the spirit of volunteerism and those who gave actually made this a pleasure to do. It was awesome.”

During the three-month project, millennials Alicia Perryman and her husband, Anthony, were regulars most weekends. Both attended the ceremony and seemed just as happy as the home owners.

“It’s definitely a sense of fulfillment knowing that it’s for a family,” Alicia Perryman said. “They have a home to come to. There is nothing like being able to come home to your house; something that you own with your name on it.”

The house has an open concept in the middle with the kitchen on the back end from the front entrance. The bedrooms are off to each side.

One of the two bathrooms is inside of the master bedroom, which also has a mid-size walk-in closet.

A move-in date hasn’t been set. That will be decided after their 6-year-old grandson, Carmelo, has a heart surgery.

In the meantime, they are expected to complete paperwork for the house with a closing later this month. Habitat for Humanity actually holds the mortgage, which the family will pay, said Joe Brown, president of Big Bend Habitat for Humanity board of directors.

Brown was ecstatic over the agency’s completion of another of the many homes it has built in the area.

“It’s always a really moving circumstance,” Brown said. “It’s a fantastic demonstration of our faith and God’s love in action to see a house come out of the ground for a deserving family.”

Brown said part of the agreement with the Akins requires them to assist with other Habitat builds, something that John Akins said they’ve already done on more than one home. They’ve volunteered 400 hours, he said.

There is also the matter of furnishing the house. That will come after the closing, Delores said, mentioning her wish list: “I want twin beds, full size bed, king bed, living room and dining room.”