When Lela Bunch talks about the prospect of building a new home so she and her children can have a place of their own and more living space, you can hear the excitement in her voice.
Between deciding what trees to plant and selecting new furnishings and appliances, it is clear how much the prospect of owning a home means to her.
And it should, it’s been a long time coming.
Lela Bunch is no ordinary woman – she is building her first home at the age of 94. Currently, she and her daughter, Lee Meadors, rent a trailer in a neatly manicured mobile home park in Laurel County, Ky. Although they like where they live, Bunch says it just isn’t the same as living in a home of your own with a yard and some measure of privacy.
She has always been a renter and finally decided the time was right to build a home of her own close to her family’s homestead – very near the house where she was born and raised, which remains standing today. Being close to her parents’ burial site in a cemetery near the building site was one reason she opted for new construction rather than the purchase an existing home. “This was very important to me. I had a tough time finding a place where I wanted to live, so I thought it was best to build a house,” said Bunch. “I’ve already picked out the dogwood trees.”
She will celebrate her 95th birthday very near the time construction is finished on the new family home. Clearing of the construction site will start the week of April 5, 2010, and the house should be finished in three to four months.
When asked what she planned to do to celebrate once the house is finished, Bunch didn’t hesitate: “I told the contractor I’m going to have a dancing party!”
Bunch said it was a neighbor that told her about a housing program through Daniel Boone Community Action Agency (DBCAA), which partners with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development to provide direct housing loans to limited-income residents of rural communities.
She began the process two years ago, and now that her lifelong dream is about to come true, she could not be happier.
She said although the process has taken some time, it was very easy and worth all the effort.
“I’m just waiting for the house to be ready and I can’t wait to move in,” said Bunch.
Her daughter agreed, “She talks about it every day – she is so happy.”
Written by Katherine Belcher, Public Information Coordinator, USDA Rural Development, Kentucky