WHEELING - There was a very special housewarming party Thursday for a mother and her three teenage daughters who are preparing to move into their new Habitat for Humanity home in South Wheeling.
It was an emotional moment for Cathy McWhorter and her daughters Leighanna, 17, Jamie, 16 and Stacy, 14, when Wheeling Area Habitat for Humanity President Bob Kennen presented them the keys to their new house on 33rd Street following a blessing by the Rev. Darrell Cummings, also a local Habitat board member.
The last year has been rough for the McWhorter family, whose lives were upended when they learned they would have to leave the apartment they had been renting.
Wheeling Area Habitat for Humanity President Bob Kennen hands Cathy McWhorter the keys to her new home in South Wheeling as her daughters, from left, Jamie, 16, Stacy, 14, and Leighanna, 17, look on. -- Ian Hicks
Now, however, they can call themselves homeowners.
"We are extremely thankful for this. ... God never let us down, that's for sure," Cathy McWhorter said.
It was the pastor at the Vineyard Church who urged the family to apply for help from Habitat for Humanity. The organization's partner families must contribute a small down payment on the home, put many hours of labor into its construction and repay the organization for building costs over time, as they are able.
The project, first announced last October, took about 13 months to complete, with hundreds of individuals and organizations lending a hand, Kennen noted.
"Thank you for your hard work and support," he said. "Mission accomplished."
Many of Leighanna's and Jamie's classmates at Wheeling Park High School stepped up to help, as the school's Habitat for Humanity Club raised enough money to equip the home with a washer, dryer, refrigerator, stove, dishwasher and microwave.
The project was dubbed the "Soroptimist House" in honor of the support provided by the Soroptimist International of Wheeling group, whose mission is to better the lives of local women and girls. Other sponsors of the project were Panhandle Cleaning and Restoration, the Vineyard Church, Circus Saints and Sinners, CertainTeed, ABC Supply, Lowe's, Joseph and Gretchen Figaretti, C.H.A.N.G.E. Inc., the Fitzsimmons Foundation, Schenk Trust, Lumber Liquidators, Mastic Home Exteriors, Savage Construction, AM Architecture, Famous Supply, Bloch Family Foundation, WesBanco, Graybar, Dacar Masonry, Oasis Plumbing, Trinity Lutheran Church, Valley Heating & Electrical, A.E. Pelley Plumbing & Heating and Ron's Countertops.
The South Wheeling house was the Wheeling Area Habitat for Humanity's first since 2009. The organization's board already is planning their next local project, details of which have yet to be announced.