Atlanta Habitat for Humanity building more than homes

Since its founding in 1983, Atlanta Habitat for Humanity has helped some 1,600 households assemble their very personal dwelling, guiding them from foundation to roof, through inside finishes and fixtures.

That alone is more than adequate to change the trajectory of any family’s life. But take into consideration for a second providing the sources they might wish to begin out or assemble their very personal enterprise, making it attainable not solely for them to maintain up their new lives, nonetheless, correctly, assemble on them.

To this day, the very notion gives Jacqueline Otey goose pimples.

Last 12 months, it occurred to her.

Her success, she talked about, started on Saturday 14 years previously as she was ending work on a Habitat dwelling her brother Richard was building in Thomasville.

“I was chatting with the president and she asked if I were a homeowner,” Otey talked about one morning these days.

She wasn’t. Otey was dwelling collectively along with her two sons and an older brother in a condominium nonetheless attempting to buy a home. For months, she’d been serving to Richard, nonetheless, it had in no way occurred to her that she’d qualify for a Habitat dwelling, too. A bariatric affected individual navigator at Emory-Decatur Hospital, she assumed her earnings was too extreme.

She discovered, nonetheless, all that was required was that she have a minimal of two years of standard employment, $700 in monetary financial savings, a very good credit score rating score and be ready to position in 500 sweat equity hours serving to a different individual. Nope, the work she’d accomplished on her brother’s dwelling didn’t depend on.

Otey would rapidly be a part of for this technique, and 12 years previously, she moved proper right into a four-bedroom, two-bath wood-frame dwelling on a quiet highway in southeast Atlanta, skip and a hop from downtown.

Granted it isn’t in an upscale group, the place crime is low and boarded-up properties don’t exist. No, in Lakewood Commons, the opposite is true. And though it is burdened by dilapidated homes and extreme crime costs, Otey is glad she’s “sitting in the middle of something great that is about to happen.”

Thanks to an attentive neighbor, that has undoubtedly proved true for her.

The neighbor, Otey talked about, forwarded to her an article about Habitat’s newest effort: Vision. Goals. Action!

By then, Otey had already constructed a status for herself as a result of the unofficial mayor of Lakewood Commons, nonetheless, she stood out for one factor else — a line of skincare merchandise she created in her kitchen years earlier when her youthful son Todd suffered from eczema.

For years, she’d tried prescription medicines and over-the-counter lotions and lotions and nothing labored. Otey started experimenting with shea and cocoa butter until lastly, she had treatment for Todd’s itchy pores and pores and skin — Butter Me Up by Jena.

She started sharing the product with household and associates and earlier than prolonged, they’ve been requesting refills. When they started offering to pay for the product, it hit her. Maybe her butter would possibly grow to be her bread and butter.

That was in 2017. Otey was nonetheless making jars of physique butter and selling them from her kitchen when her neighbor shared the e-mail inviting entrepreneurs and wannabe enterprise householders to compete for Habitat funds they could use to begin out a model new enterprise or assemble on one they already had “Shark Tank” mannequin.

Since the VGA entrepreneur rivals launched in 2017, 5 homeowners have pitched their enterprise. Otey, one amongst three finalists chosen by a panel of judges, obtained the ultimate 12 months’ fall rivals.

“I was excited,” she talked about. “They handed me a $2,500 check and a glass trophy.”

According to Lisa Y. Gordon, president, and CEO of Atlanta Habitat for Humanity, Vision. Goals. Action! was made attainable by a $40,000 reward acquired in 2016 from native donors.

“We wanted to impact homeowners beyond the build,” Gordon talked about.

In addition to serving to homeowners develop or start their enterprise, Habitat moreover awards education scholarships for homeowners and their relations.

To date, Atlanta Habitat has awarded more than $30,000 in scholarships and 5 enterprise grants totaling $9,250.

“We’ve had some great success stories,” Gordon talked about.

Otey used her grant to buy bulk devices for her enterprise. Instead of 10 kilos of shea butter, she would possibly buy 100 kilos. Instead of the identical previous 40 jars, she acquired 500. She was moreover able to purchase a model new mixer, mixing bowls and labels.

Business, she talked about, is doing surprisingly correctly.

Find Gracie on Facebook ( and Twitter (@GStaples_AJC) or email her at

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