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County, others make couple's dream possible
AW LifeInLiberty1
Youth Challenge Academy Director Robert Hughes, Liberty County Board of Commissioners Housing and Redevelopment Director Carmela Moore, homeowners Lawrence and Willie Mae Miller and contractor Osee Relaford Jr. stand in what will soon be the Millers' new living room. - photo by Andrea Washington / Coastal Courier


The Life in Liberty program helps the Miller family.

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Homeowners Lawrence and Willie Mae Miller have wanted to make improvements on their house for years, but lacking the finances to rebuild the home of their dreams, they did not think it would be possible.
That is until they heard about the "Life in Liberty Program," a new initiative by the Liberty County Commission to restore or rebuild homes for some of the counties least fortunate residents.
It's taken nearly two years of planning, but the housing program finally got off the ground Monday when cadets from the Youth Challenge Academy and a crew from Relaford Construction showed up in the Millers' yard to build the family's new home.
Liberty County Housing and Redevelopment Director Carmela Moore said the home is the first of up to nine homes the county plans to repair or reconstruct with $294,000 the county received from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.
"In 2006, the Liberty County Board of Commissioners submitted a Community Home Improvement Program application to the Department of Community Affairs and we were awarded some monies to make improvements to homes," she said, "which is basically rehabilitation or...replacing a home that's not feasible to be repaired with a new home."
The project, which focuses on homeowners in the unincorporated areas of the county, also has local financial backing from the Coastal EMC Foundation, United Way and The Heritage Bank.
Other community partners, including the YCA and Relaford Construction, have agreed to support the program with volunteer work, which Moore said is just as important as the financial contributions.
Watching as a group of cadets dug up azalea bushes in the Miller front yard, YCA Director Robert Hughes said the academy's students are participating in the program as part of their required 40 hours of community service.
Relaford Construction owner Osee Relaford Jr. said his company will supply the work to build the family "a basic, three-bedroom home," based on a Habitat for Humanity blueprint.
"The house should be completed in the next three to four months," he said.
As Relaford's crew began laying down wood planks to outline the future house and Lawrence Miller assisted cadets with carrying an azalea bush, his wife used only a few words to describe the project's impact on the family.
"It's very deep," Willie Mae Miller said. "This is a really good thing."
Moore said other homeowners interested in participating in Life in Liberty can call the commission office at 876-2164.
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