Donald R. White is Towanda’s newest homeowner and will likely be the city’s most grateful citizen this Thanksgiving holiday.
White, permanently disabled by a genetic condition since 2003, will spend this year’s national holiday in the wheelchair-accessible kitchen of a home he spent 540 hours and 55 minutes to help build as a partner with Habitat for Humanity.
The two-bedroom home was dedicated during ceremonies on Nov. 17 at the home, 622 High Street, Towanda. More than 50 volunteers, donors, neighbors and family attended the event and open house.
More than 100 community volunteers from the Towanda, El Dorado and Benton communities joined forces with Butler County Habitat for Humanity to help White and his family raise money and to build the home. Bob and Laura (Tabor) Albert, long-time Towanda residents, donated property for the project.
Other contributors, included the El Dorado Charities Auxiliary, United Way of El Dorado, NuStar Energy, LP, First United Methodist Church of Towanda, the El Dorado Ministerial League and many local construction trades as coordinated by Butler County’s all-volunteer Habitat for Humanity affiliate.
Joe Metzinger, Kay Buildings, has served as the organization’s President. Kay Metzinger, Board member for Butler County Habitat for Humanity, studied ADA accessibility guidelines to ensure the home, the first fully accessible home to be built by the organization, would meet the new homeowner’s needs.
White has been living in a small Towanda apartment where he can drive his wheelchair into the kitchen, but must back out. There, he must turn to the side to cook or wash dishes. Previously a hard-working maintenance and construction worker, White’s fixed disability income had severely limited his housing options.
In his application to the Habitat program, White wrote, “My condition has gotten worse over the years. If I were to get a home my daily struggles would definitely decrease. This home would help me put my life back together.”
As a result of donations of money, materials and volunteer labor, White will purchase the 840 square-foot, 2-bedroom home with a 20-year, 0 percent interest mortgage which makes the home affordable despite his fixed disability income. The many hours of “sweat equity” serve as his downpayment.
Most important, White cut the ribbon and “moved in” to the new home just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday. He looks forward to cooking for his two young granddaughters in his new kitchen though he jokes, “I’m afraid I might get lost in it!”