LAWRENCE – Acton Street’s newest residents have a lot in common. Both are families of seven from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Both sets of parents emigrated to the United States in search of better opportunities for their children. Yesterday morning, they all pitched in to put the finishing touches on their new home.
For Dieudonne Konkolongo, one of the new homeowners, the experience of obtaining a Habitat for Humanity house has been life changing, and not only because he, his wife and his five children will have a brand new townhouse to live in. The move to Acton Street is a part of Konkolongo’s assimilation into American culture.
“From where I have come, we do not have such a program,” he said. “Habitat is not just about the house, for me Habitat is about relationships. It is about expanding a network. I have made many friends.”
Konkolongo, with shovel in hand, said the fact of being able to own a house represents beauty to him. When he arrived in the U.S. in 2010, he had nothing. He has found a loving, supportive community in his church, where he volunteers and works with children. He is excited to have a safe, permanent home.
“I don’t have words to express what I’m feeling now,” he said.
During a ceremony that kicked off at noon yesterday, Habitat for Humanity volunteers stood on a lawn that had been planted mere hours before. Steve Howell, chairman of the Home Builders Blitz event that erected the two homes in five days, was emotional as he addressed the small crowd of neighbors and fellow volunteers assembled on Acton Street. He described the community in lower Tower Hill as being fun-loving and supportive, frequently stopping by to check on the team’s progress over the course of the week.