Habitat for Humanity and Gulf Power build hope

PANAMA CITY, Florida – Choking back tears of joy, Christine Harding, along with her three children, stood in front of the small group gathered recently and read hand-written notes from a few sheets of crumpled paper. 

With her new Habitat for Humanity home behind her, she looked around at the community members and volunteers who made the moment possible and said two simple words: “thank you.”

“We are truly blessed to be standing here in front of this new home that you, the volunteers, have helped us get ready to move into,” said Harding. “My family will be forever grateful. And I want to give a big thank you to Gulf Power because without them this would have been nothing more than a dream.”

Harding’s home was one of two homes dedicated Saturday, July 16, which were the 73rd and 74th Habitat for Humanity homes in the area. Bay County Habitat for Humanity helps connect low-income residents with homes sold at no profit, with zero-percent interest rate mortgages. The homeowners put in the work to help build them, and are required to contribute at least 500 hours of “sweat equity.”

Harding recruited her brother who lives in the area, and her father who lives more than two hours away to help her with the “labor of love,” the first home she has ever owned.

“There was a lot of blood, sweat and tears put into our home,” Harding added. “I couldn’t have done it without my family beside me. We hammered a ton of nails but we would do it all over again.”

The Harding family was not alone in putting in hundreds of volunteer hours into their home. Volunteers from across the community including Gulf Power pitched in to get the homes built. Employees from the energy company donated nearly 500 volunteer hours toward the build as well as sponsoring the homes, donating $116,000 for the construction.

It’s important to Gulf Power employees that they give back to their community, said Rick DelaHaya, Gulf Power spokesperson, and make a difference for their neighbors.

“We are so thankful for the opportunity to be able to partner with Habitat for Humanity and have a part in making home ownership a reality for the Harding family,” said DelaHaya. “Making a difference in our communities and the lives of people is what’s so great about Habitat and working for a company like Gulf Power.  It’s important for us to give back to the community in which we call home.”

The two Habitat homes have been designated as Gulf Power EarthCents homes. EarthCents homes offer built-in quality and comfort, and are more efficient than homes built to standard building codes, helping homeowners save money and energy

EarthCents Home is part of Gulf Power’s portfolio of energy efficiency programs created to help customers save money, use energy efficiently and help the environment. An EarthCents home has been tested utilizing the national standard HERS (Home Energy Rating System) protocol, meaning the home will be substantially more efficient than a standard home.

“Building the homes to these standards means the home owners will see a significant reduction in energy consumption while improving comfort and sustainability,” added DelaHaya. “We’re certain that the homes’ high energy efficiency will appeal to both home owners for many years to come.”

After giving those attending the ceremony a tour through their home, Harding looked at her children and asked, “Are you ready?”  

“We’re moving in today,” said Harding wiping away tears along with sweat from the mid-morning sun. “It’s been a long time coming. I can’t believe I finally get to move in and have a place to call home. Oh, and have my own bathroom!”

For more information on Habitat for Humanity, call 850.784.9975 or visit www.habitatbay.org.




Gulf Power is an investor-owned energy provider with all of its common stock owned by Atlanta-based Southern Company. Gulf Power serves more than 447,000 customers in eight counties throughout Northwest Florida. The company’s mission is to safely provide exceptional customer value by delivering reliable, affordable and environmentally responsible electricity while strengthening our communities. Visit online at MyGulfPower.com or on the company’s Facebook page. News information can be found at GulfPowerNews.com.


News Media Contacts:

Jeff Rogers
External Communications & Brand Manager
850-444-6243, cell 850-572-5511

Rick DelaHaya
Media Relations Supervisor
850-444-6433, cell 318-294-2338

Natalie Smith
Media Relations
850-444-6784, cell 850-375-6123