CHIPLEY - After 16 years of renting the same residence, one local man has been blessed with the opportunity to own his own home.

Chipola Are Habitat for Humanity honored 66-year-old George Card with a mortgage on a three bedroom, one bath home. Card received the keys to his new home, located at 507 Fifth Street in Chipley, at a dedication ceremony held Thursday evening.

He expressed he would miss his old home and landlord, but is confident this is a step to better things.

"I'm excited because I know God is in this plan," Card said. "God knows what he's doing.

He's is moving me into a better place, the neighborhood seems to be quiet."

A navy veteran and retiree from West Pointe Homes, Card's former address, 1171 First Ave. in Chipley, suffered roofing damages from Hurricane Michael. Unfortunately, the damages coupled with prior existing repair needs, left Card in a substandard living condition.

"It's rewarding to be able to help Mr. Card," said Chipola Area Habitat for Humanity, Inc. Executive Director Carmen Smith. "He seems to be dedicated to his church, he is retired, and prior to his mother's passing, he was her caregiver. Most of his life, he has been as responsible as he knew how to be. You can tell the idea of homeownership for him was like winning the lottery and never again having a care in the world."

"That's rewarding," Smith added.

The organization was able to offer Card the mortgage at the same cost of his former rental property.

The nonprofit organization dedicates about five homes a year in the Chipola region, which includes Washington and Jackson counties. Habitat for Humanity purchases homes to renovate and builds homes from the ground up - something Smith is very proud of.

"We're proud of the house we build from the ground up," she said, noting a Habitat home is energy efficient and designed to keep costs low for the buyer throughout the lifetime of the mortgage. It costs about $80-85 to construct.

Originally built in 2007, Card's new home is a Habitat "rehabbed" home that has about $30,000 in upgrades, including new floors, air conditioning unit, additional installation, new appliances, and a new roof.

Wells Fargo's volunteer program donated $15,000 and 60 community service hours to the project. The remaining funds were acquired through two grants - one from Habitat International, which assists people in disaster impacted areas, and the other through AARP.

"This is truly an investment - we like to see families move from survival mode to sustainability," Smith said.

No two home dedications are the same she added.

"If you have to have a job, I probably have the best job there is to have," she said. "Every day, what I am working towards is rewarding both personally and professionally."

Apply for housing and volunteers opportunities by contacting the Chipola Area Habitat for Humanity's administrative office at 850-482-2187, ext. 102 or officeassistant@chipolahabitat.org. The organization also operates to retail stores: Chipley ReStore, 1368 N. Railroad Ave., and Marianna ReStore, 4736 Hwy 90.

For more information about the organization go to habitat.org.