Starting a new year, with a home of their own

It was a momentous day when Carla and Dwayne Gude were able to enter a home of their own, in Dade City.

The house dedication ceremony marked the culmination of a collaboration between the couple and Habitat for Humanity of East and Central Pasco County.

Carla and Dwayne Gude are the new owners of a home that has been renovated in Dade City. The house, which was dedicated last December, was the 150th home project by the Habitat for Humanity of East and Central Pasco County. (Brian Fernandes)

The event also marked the branch’s 150th house project.

On the morning of Dec. 19, Crystal Lazar, president and chief executive officer for the Habitat’s local branch, told those gathered: “This is one of the best and our favorite times for Habitat for Humanity. We’re celebrating the hard work that the Gude family has put into this house.”

After applying for a Habitat home two years ago, Carla and Dwayne spent a year designing what would be their new residence.

It was a collaborative effort as they were assisted by many volunteers offering their time.

Unlike most Habitat homes, this one wasn’t built from the ground up. But it was renovated, to meet Dwayne’s needs.

Dwayne needed a home that could accommodate the wheelchair from which he lives life.

This home does just that. It has two ramps – one leading to the front door and one leading to the home’s side door.

The home’s bathroom has a shower equipped with open space, so Dwayne can use it.

While the home is outfitted with a new fridge, microwave, stove and cabinets — Carla is most impressed by the handicap-accessible amenities.

And, being that they moved in during the holidays, there was another nice touch: A Christmas tree with gifts beneath it, in the home’s living room.

The balloons on Carla and Dwayne Gude’s newly renovated home signify a milestone for Habitat for Humanity of East and Central Pasco. This is the organization’s 150th project.

In addition to the living room, there’s a spacious dining room, and down the hallway, there are three bedrooms and a laundry room.

For the Gudes, their new residence represents a notable upgrade from their former Dade City home.

The dedication day was a big day for Carla.

“It’s awesome. We’ve been waiting for two years for this,” Carla said.

As part of the celebration, the Gudes received several gifts.

They received bread, salt, sugar, a broom, a candle and a Bible — each gift signifying a symbolic meaning for what a home should be.

The East Pasco Quilt Guild brought the family a colorful quilt, which they held up for the crowd to see.

Laurel Weightman, development director at the Habitat branch, blessed the house key before it was handed over to the couple.

“It takes many hands, many hours to get a Habitat house prepared and ready,” she said.

The house sponsors, Wesley Chapel Honda and Wesley Chapel Toyota were there, too, and their staff helped to hold up the big ribbon for the ceremonial cutting, before the key opened the front door.

Carla expressed her gratitude for her family saying, “Every obstacle [has] been a roller coaster for me, but I’m thankful for my family being there anytime, with a listening ear of encouragement and prayers. I love you.”

Carla’s father, Kenneth, said he was proud and happy for his daughter to finally have this home.

In addition to celebrating the couple’s home, Habitat also celebrated its milestone event.

“Building 150 houses, we’re talking about 600 people in the community that are directly impacted by those houses,” said John Finnerty, the branch’s inaugural executive director.

Published January 08, 2020

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