Lake Norman & Mooresville

Community effort puts fire victim in new house

Betty Patterson stands in the living room of her new home.
Betty Patterson stands in the living room of her new home. SUZANNE FULTON

From fish frys to fancy teas, three years of fund-raising events have yielded most of the $65,000 needed to build a home for Betty Patterson who lost her former home in a fire in May 2012.

The new home, built for her by the Lake Norman community, was formally dedicated May 31.

Before the large gathering in her front yard on Hambright Road in Huntersville, Patterson acknowledged the generosity of all those involved. Build Betty A House committee members, donors, volunteers, pastors, family members, neighbors and media representatives listened to her speak. “I live in a great community,” she said.

Choking back tears, she added, “From the bottom of my heart, thank you, thank you, thank you.”

In addition to funds raised, countless hours of volunteer labor by professional tradesmen and others, as well as donated and deeply discounted building products, were essential to completing the project.

Master of ceremonies Jerry Kita said many people contributed, including the Rev. Ann Gibert – until recently with Huntersville United Methodist Church – who played an important role in coordinating the activity; Kevin Richardson Grading Inc., which performed debris clearing and grading; Larry Henkle, who replaced the septic system; Michael Stewart for expertise as construction foreman and for the help of his family members; Mike Stedman for custom cabinetry; Ronnie Henson for heating and cooling equipment installation; Mona Kita for wood flooring installation and leading the painting team. Other volunteers who played significant roles included Jean Gilreath, Shelia Brumlow, Sheree Thompkins, K.C. Shinner and Kirk and Krista Sipe.

Kita noted staff members of Our Towns Habitat for Humanity gave guidance early on and donated architectural plans; Haskell’s Hardware donated shelves; Metrolina Greenhouses, outdoor plants. Linda Daniel of Republic Services arranged for a Dumpster, and Total Office Services of Huntersville allowed copies to be made.

Kita said he prepared a document listing all contractors and contact information. Significant monetary contributions came from North Mecklenburg Woman’s Club, Hopewell Presbyterian Church, St. Mark’s Catholic Church and Huntersville United Methodist.

Senior pastor of Huntersville UMC Paul Thompson said, “I give all the credit to Jerry and Mona Kita and Ann Gibert. I have a lot of admiration that they took on and completed this project. They are examples of the type of people who put Christian love into action.”

Jerry Kita said he and his wife “were a continuous presence to coordinate volunteers, solicit donations and provide a communications channel.”

The Kitas knew of Patterson before the fire. They had run the Salkehatchie construction camp, a summer construction camp ministry for youths and adults that was scheduled to fix Patterson’s roof. Patterson’s home insurance had lapsed because of the poor condition of the roof, so she was not covered when the fire destroyed her home.

Gibert, a volunteer pastor with the Salkehatchie camp at the time, said, “Betty’s story tugged at our heartstrings. Our experience made us think we could do this (house build), plus we knew people to draw upon.”

“This project took a lot longer than we thought it would, but we never lost faith, and Betty never lost faith in us,” Kita said at the dedication.

Gibert, via telephone from her new home in the Boston area, said, “I am still stunned that the right people came together at the right time. I ask that they continue this relationship.”

The Build Betty a House committee still needs to raise about $8,000 to cover the costs, said Kita, adding some events are being planned.

Suzanne Fulton is a freelance writer. Have a story for Suzanne? Email her at suzannelakenorman@gmail.com

Want to help?

For information or to make an online donation, visit www.buildbettyahouse.org. Checks should be made payable to and sent to Huntersville United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 378, Huntersville, NC 28070. Write “Disaster Relief/Home Building” on the memo line. While Build Betty A House is registered as a N.C. nonprofit, the committee decided that it would not be registered as a 501(c )(3) under IRS code. However, donations via Huntersville UMC to this project are tax-deductible.

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