Habitat Greenville dedicates 2023 Arena Build Home
GREENVILLE, S.C. – Gwendolyn Smith is back home, literally and figuratively.
A retired medical secretary, Smith grew up in the Nicholtown community mostly in apartments just a few hundred feet from her new Ramsey Drive home, which is part of Habitat for Humanity of Greenville County’s series of new homes built in the past few years.
"There are new apartments now, it used to be called Fieldcrest... then it was Jesse Jackson Townhomes and now it has another name. Several of my elementary years were right there so it’s like full circle. We used to walk through the woods to Nicholtown Elementary School. It’s the side of town that I know that I feel at home,” she said.
Her home is the fourth Arena Build Home done in concert with the Bon Secours Wellness Arena, Harley Davidson of Greenville, KW Beverage, Levy Restaurants, Pepsi, Southern First Bank, Spero Financial, The Spinx Company, TWIA Insurance Agency and United Home Loan Services.
The Arena Build homes are unique because they start construction the downtown Bon Secours Wellness Arena. Volunteers and Habitat put up the framing over three days last June before moving the house to its permanent location in Nicholtown.
“It’s amazing what can happen when a group of people can come together and create an impact not just for one person, but for the entire community,” said Monroe Free, President and CEO of Habitat Greenville.
Smith started work after high school for a manufacturing company during the 1970s, but when textiles were moving out of the South she was laid off. She then pursued a course at Greenville Tech as a medical secretary, a job she had always wanted. This led to her working for the first dialysis clinic in Greenville for 15 years until moving to California. After retirement, she moved back to Greenville.
Through more than 200 hours of sweat equity, she created a new path for her life back in the place she grew up. She looks forward to being able to sit on her very own porch, re-paint a plant stand she got from the ReStore, read a good book, and wave to her neighbors.
"Habitat helps foster responsibility,” she said. “You can give, you can be involved, you can help make a difference."
About Habitat for Humanity of Greenville County:
Habitat for Humanity of Greenville County opened its doors in 1985 to bring families, community partners, and volunteers together to construct affordable, energy-efficient homes that help families build strength, stability, and self-reliance. As of May 2023, Habitat Greenville has completed the construction of 405 homes. Habitat Greenville received the 2017 Builder of the Year award from EarthCraft, and in recognition of financial health, accountability, and transparency, maintain a 4-Star Charity status by Charity Navigator. Habitat Greenville ReStores are located at 3033 Wade Hampton Boulevard in Taylors and 1818 Woodruff Road in Greenville. Call 864-312-5016 for free donation pickups.Learn more at www.habitatgreenville.org.