Family of seven moves into new Habitat home

By Wes Tomlinson

For the Enquirer

New neighbors, friends and family lined the driveway Sunday to welcome the seven-member Swopes family to a new Habitat for Humanity home.

“This really means a lot. We were living in a two-bedroom house before this,” said Brandon Swopes, grinning broadly with wife Keunna Swopes.

Construction began this past fall on the 1,375-square-foot ranch-style house in east Hartselle.

“It’s been a longer wait than normal just because of COVID-19,” explained Lydia Beck, family services coordinator of Habitat for Humanity of Morgan County.

One of the Swopes children, Braxton, was given the honor of opening the house for the first time. Inside was a table full of pictures and news articles about the house’s construction that the Swopes parents showed to their children for the first time.

“Do you remember when I told you me and mom had some stuff to work on?” Brandon Swopes said to his children. “Well, this was it.”

Brandon and Keunna Swopes have been assisting Habitat for Humanity in building homes since October 2019.

“They are required to do at least 100 hours on construction sites, so they’ve helped build several homes,” Beck said. “They also have completed 25-30 hours of home ownership classes, and both that and the 100 hours are requirements they had to have to receive this house.”

Beck said the houses Habitat builds are not provided free to their new occupants.

“The folks that move into our houses actually have a mortgage,” Beck said. “We sell to them at a discount with a zero-interest loan.”

Brandon Swopes, a forklift driver for the Walmart Distribution Center in Cullman, said he has learned valuable carpentry skills while working with Habitat for Humanity.

“There’s a lot of stuff I did not know before I started working for Habitat,” he said. “A lot of workers showed us a lot of things – not only how to build this house but how to maintain this house.”

Sam Beadle, a member of Habitat’s construction crew, said through severe heat and cold, the Swopes family never complained once and worked tirelessly on all of the houses they assisted with. “They hung in there, and you never saw one without the other,” Beadle said. “That’s a good family right there.”

Beadle laughed when he spoke about an incident that occurred while he and Brandon were building a home in Decatur.

“Brandon was cutting with a skill saw, and he bent over and started it up, and I threw his hair out of the way before it got caught,” Beadle said. “I told him he probably needed to pull his hair back from now on.”

Brandon Swopes, originally from Decatur, said he and his family are looking forward to being a part of the Hartselle community and school system.

“I’m looking forward to watching my son Brandon play football for Hartselle Junior High,” Swopes said.

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