Older couple to celebrate first Thanksgiving in their own home

Vernell and Charles at their home dedication

Older couple to celebrate first Thanksgiving in their own home
November 01
13:24 2022

Habitat Forsyth

Vernell and Charles Springs are experiencing some of the best times of their lives at the ages of 65 and 67. After many years of renting, they recently became Habitat homeowners.

Their home was made possible because Dyeann Jordan, who did not know the couple at all, decided to sponsor a Habitat house for her 85th birthday last spring. Her family and friends came together to raise money for the house materials and to help build it.

It all started last spring when Dyeann was thinking about what to do to celebrate her 85th birthday. The ways in which many others celebrate – with a party or a trip – didn’t interest her. Instead, she wanted to do something for others.

She had been part of Habitat builds in the past through her church, Centenary United Methodist in Winston-Salem, so she decided to sponsor a Habitat house. She and her husband Henry made a lead gift and sent letters to their families and friends, asking them to contribute to the project as Dyeann’s birthday gift. They have so far raised $80,000 and any funds beyond what is needed for materials for the Springs’ home will go toward Habitat’s repair program. This program provides critical home repairs and aging-in-place modifications for residents – many of them seniors as well – who cannot otherwise afford them.  

“The whole experience turned into something so much bigger than I ever expected,” Dyeann said. “Our whole family got involved – our children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews. They came to Winston-Salem from as far away as Houston and Boston to help build. It was such a wonderful thing for our family, and we get to help Habitat and Vernell and Charles at the same time. It is a win-win for everybody. Henry and I normally like to give anonymously, but we decided it was worthwhile to tell our story if it will inspire others to do something like this for others.”

The Springs’ house is in the Boston Thurmond neighborhood, not far from where the Jordans live at Arbor Acres United Methodist Retirement Community. “Mrs. Dyeann is a jewel,” Vernell said. “I am so, so grateful for her, that it was her desire to build a Habitat home for her 85th birthday, and that we were chosen to be the homeowners.”

Like many families, Vernell and Charles have been caught up in the issues caused by a lack of affordable housing. Earlier this year, their landlord raised their rent beyond what they could afford. “We had lived there 13 years, never been late on a payment,” Vernell said. While they waited for their Habitat home to be finished, they temporarily moved in with her daughter, Brandi Baker, who is also a Habitat homeowner.

They probably would have never become homeowners had it not been for Brandi, who insisted they apply to Habitat, Vernell said. The mortgage payment on their Habitat home will be about half of what they were paying in rent, allowing them to put money into savings. Vernell said she learned a lot in the homeownership and financial literacy classes that all Habitat homeowners are required to take as part of the program. “Habitat has given us a new beginning, and I’m so grateful for it. Finally, we will be able to invest in US rather than someone else.”

Both Winston-Salem natives, Vernell and Charles met decades ago when both worked at Morrison’s Cafeteria. Charles asked Vernell to marry him then, but she wasn’t ready. Each ended up marrying other people, then eventually divorcing.

One day 15 years ago, Vernell went to the emergency room because she had a bad headache. There was Charles, who was there because of back pain. The two rekindled their relationship and finally got married. “He said, ‘You got away from me one time. I’m not going to let you get away from me again,’” Vernell says with a laugh.

Both spent much of their lives taking care of others, through bad relationships and financial and health setbacks, Vernell says.  “All my life, I’ve been a giver. I never asked anyone for anything. But in my later years, God has given me so many beautiful people in my life. Every person I have met at Habitat has been wonderful.”

To learn more, visit

About Author

WS Chronicle

WS Chronicle

Related Articles


Featured Sponsor

Receive Chronicle Updates

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.



More Sponsors