Before he died in February, the late Army Lt. Col. Ashley Ivey donated a half-acre wooded lot on Womack Avenue off Cobb Parkway to Habitat for Humanity with the stipulation that any home built there go to a disabled veteran.
During the house dedication ceremony, Ivey’s niece, Beth Hoeve of Roswell, recalled how much her late uncle loved his country.
“While serving as a navigator … in WWII, he was shot down in German-occupied Holland, and the Dutch Resistance risked their lives to smuggle him to safety,” she said. “He never forgot their kindness. Col. Ashley and his (late) wife, Ruth, knew the importance of their faith in God and put it into action by serving others.”
Ivey went on to serve in the Korean War and the Vietnam War. He spent his retirement as a substitute teacher at North Cobb High School and as an active member of Acworth United Methodist Church, the Southern Order of Storytellers and other civic and volunteer activities.
Ivey died just months before he could see his dream of providing homeownership to another veteran realized. He had hoped that his donation would inspire others, especially members of the military, to also donate to veterans.
The property he left went to Vietnam veteran Lt. Victor Alvarado of Acworth, a grandfather of seven. A native of Puerto Rico, Alvarado injured his back while offloading 250-pound C-130 tires at Homestead Base, south of Miami, while serving in the Air Force. Later back surgery worsened the problem, he said.
Alvarado said he and his wife, Myriam, learned about the Habitat for Humanity home through his church, Transfiguration Catholic Church of Marietta.
“We want to give thanks and gratitude to the Northwest Metro Atlanta Habitat for Humanity,” Alvarado told the group of volunteers, sponsors and officials that gathered outside the new home to celebrate the house dedication, including members of American Legion North Cobb Post #304, and his priest, Father Guyma Noel.
“There not enough words to express our gratitude for everything they have done, but at least we are happy that we are here today to follow Col. Ivey’s dream house. … Today, he can see from heaven that his life aspiration has been realized: A disabled veteran will be living in a Habitat home built on his donated property.
“Lt. Col. Ivey, from the bottom of our hearts, we thank you and we salute you.”
Alvarado said his current dwelling has been his father’s two-story house, which has been difficult because of his back injury. The one-story house is a blessing, he said.
Camille Cordak, development director for the northwest metro affiliate of Habitat for Humanity, said on average, her group puts about $40,000 into the property and development of a Habitat home, while sponsors kick in another $65,000. Habitat doesn’t charge for the volunteer labor used to build the home, which is worth about $35,000. The $105,000 home is sold to the recipient with an interest-free mortgage.
“We’re not a hand-out, we’re a hand up,” she said.
More than 300 volunteers helped build the 1,445-square-foot, three-bedroom home over seven weeks.
Since 1986, the Smyrna-based Habit affiliate has built about 350 homes, most of them in Cobb County, Cordak said. The group expects homeowners and volunteers to complete 20 homes by the end of the year.
Acworth Mayor Pro-tem and Alderman Bob Weatherford spoke on the importance of lending a helping hand to veterans.
“I heard it summed up best that a veteran is a person that wrote a blank check to the United States of America payable up to and including his life,” Weatherford said. “So any time you see a veteran, you need to help that veteran out any way you can and thank them for their service. Many of us, including the Lieutenant, went through a time in our country where we were not as appreciated as the other wars were. And a lot of us have vowed that that will never happen again. So I empower you to remember that going forward, that all veterans, all military, need our support and our welcome home sometimes. It’s just as simple as saying, ‘thank you.’”
Sponsors of the Ivey House include Lockheed Martin, Wells Fargo, Heath & Lineback Engineers, WellStar’s Acworth Health Park and Call2Recycle.