Otis Mazon, who has helped build other people’s homes for three years, was finally given his own on Tuesday.
Mazon, a 44-year-old UF Health financial counselor, and his two daughters have volunteered with Habitat for Humanity for three years. He was approached by organizers and encouraged to apply to receive a home on one of his first job sites. They were picked that year.
“To be honest I wasn’t expecting this,” Mazon said. “We were just volunteering. It’s what me and my daughters love to do.”
After over a year of construction, the Alachua Habitat for Humanity in collaboration with Santa Fe College celebrated Mazon’s new home, the partnership’s seventh house, with a home dedication at 10 a.m. on Tuesday in High Springs.
When Mazon applied, he and his daughters were living with his aunt, who was terminally ill. His aunt’s home had only two bedrooms, and their finances were strained due to her medical bills. Mazon said he was also supporting his estranged wife, who was living in a one-bedroom apartment.
Around the same time he was applying for a new home, Mazon and his wife were reunited after seven years of separation. The house was a blessing from God that brought his family back together, said Mazon, who works with the youth at Campus Church of Christ.
“There is so much I can be grateful for,” he said.
Mazon beamed as he stood in front of his new home — a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom house with wood steps leading up to a porch and 1,250 square feet of the family’s own space.
“The feeling to have my own home, after building other people’s home – priceless,” he said. “I mean I have chills; it’s just priceless. This is an occasion that I will cherish for a lifetime.”
The land for the home was donated by the City of High Springs, and the construction was sponsored by Charles Perry Partners, Inc.
“It was a joy working with Otis and his family,” said executive director of Alachua Habitat for Humanity, Scott Winzeler. “They have deep roots in the City of High Springs, so it was a pleasure to knock on the door of the City of High Springs City Commission to see if there might be any collaboration via the land donations.”
High Springs was very accommodating, Winzeler said. It benefits small towns to convert vacant lots that aren’t earning tax revenues into homes.
Although the land was donated, the Mazon family is required to pay an affordable mortgage.
“It’s a misunderstanding that people have about (Habitat for Humanity),” Winzeler said. “They think that we give houses away, but we do not.”
Many of the workers who helped build the house came to the dedication Tuesday to celebrate with the family they had developed a relationship with during the construction process.
Chris Fillie, director of construction, said this was the third house he helped build with Habitat for Humanity. He said he was very excited to see the family receive the keys to their new home.
“You’re working with the family for the whole time, so you get really invested,” he said. “So it’s really special.”