Habitat dedicates first Catholics for Habitat, Ascension St. Vincent build

Abigail Baker poses for a picture before she cuts the ribbon during the April 4 dedication of her new home. Her parents are standing on either side of the door, while Craig Blessinger of Catholics for Habitat stands to the right of Abigail. The Message photo by Megan Erbacher

By Megan Erbacher

The Message editor

Abigail Baker didn’t feel her need was great enough for the Habitat for Humanity program, but without it, she knew becoming a homeowner would be nearly impossible. After some encouragement from her mom, she applied and was accepted.

On April 4, Abigail smiled proudly while standing in the living room of her new Habitat home after being escorted inside by the Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus Honor Guard Assembly 253. Abigail’s home was dedicated in the 700 block of Taylor Avenue in Evansville. 

It’s the 598th home built by Habitat-Evansville in Vanderburgh and Posey counties, and the first house built in partnership with Catholics for Habitat and Ascension St. Vincent.

Luke Nordine, left, Catholics for Habitat Chair and Habitat Board of Directors, congratulates Abigail as he presents her with a Bible and cross-stitch. The Message photo by Megan Erbacher

“I’m overwhelmed with joy and thankfulness,” Abigail said. “I was what you’d call the prodigal child for a good while in my life, and to see how God has turned everything around is huge. I went from being a felon who was homeless to having an expunged record, a stable job and a place to call a forever home, all thanks to God through Habitat and everybody who has put in the time and the effort to help me.”

Last year, Habitat announced Ascension St. Vincent committed to donating $40,000 per year to help Catholics for Habitat build additional homes. Volunteers from both sides helped to build the home alongside Abigail and the Habitat Core Crew.

Abigail’s home is the 26th house sponsored by Catholics for Habitat.

Billy Thompson, Habitat-Evansville faith relations manager, welcomed everyone to the celebration. Habitat has a tradition of choosing a word to describe new homeowners. Thompson called Abigail spirited.

“Everything that Abby does, she does with zeal,” Thompson said. “Everything she does, she does with an intensity, with a passion. … Abby is someone who has persevered. She's someone who has overcome. She’s someone who has been guided by her faith and leads with that in everything that she does.”

Luke Nordine, Catholics for Habitat Chair and Habitat Board of Directors, congratulated Abigail and said he was honored to present her a Bible and cross-stitch.

Craig Blessinger, front row left, of Catholics for Habitat presents Abigail with a crucifix because Jesus Christ will continue to guide her along the way, in good times and bad. The Message photo by Megan Erbacher

Craig Blessinger of Catholics for Habitat presented Abigail with a crucifix. Blessinger said they were privileged to be a small part of her journey.

“There is one constant presence the entire time, and that is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” Blessinger said. “He has been with you from the beginning, and he will continue to be with you for the rest of your time on this Earth and in this house. … He will continue to guide you along the entire way, in good times and bad.”

Ascension St. Vincent South Region President Alex Chang told Abigail he hopes she is blessed with generous spirit in her new home.

“We thought it was a great partnership to join with Catholics for Habitat,” Chang said. “Our missions are very similar, with the common thread of being rooted in God's love. We also know that having a home is foundational to health and wellbeing, so we all believe that is truly our mission, so we’re grateful to be a part of this project.”

Abigail thanked God and all of the people who helped her along her journey to homeownership. Through the process, she’s learned to accept help.

“Learning that it’s OK to accept help, and that actually makes you stronger, because, in your weakness, he’s strong through other people who help lift you and carry you. So, just to be humble and accept help. It takes a village, for sure, and I’m happy that I took on this journey with everyone who was involved. … I can’t say thank you enough to everyone. Habitat gives hope to people.” 

Happy 40th anniversary, Habitat

The dedication also occurred on Habitat for Humanity of Evansville's 40th anniversary. 

Executive Director Beth Folz said Habitat-Evansville began its work of putting God's love into action by building homes, communities and hope on April 4, 1984. Since its founding, she said countless individuals have worked selflessly and tirelessly to help hundreds of local families have a safe and affordable place to call home. 

Folz thanked everyone who has donated their time, talents and treasures to help these families build a better future for themselves and their children.