After 31 years of service, retired Army Lt. Col. Ashley Ivey moved to Cobb County with his wife and became a substitute teacher at North Cobb High School. In 2011, he donated property to Northwest Metro Atlanta Habitat, an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity, with the stipulation that it be used to build a home for a disabled veteran.
On Saturday, Alvarado and his wife began building their new home on the property off Cobb Parkway in Acworth with help from Lockheed Martin volunteers.
“It’s a precious gift,” said Alvarado, 60. “It is a blessing, and at the same time we are honored to be able to continue the dream of Col. Ivey’s wishes.”
Ivey died at age 88 in February, just a few months before he could see his dream of providing homeownership to another veteran realized. He had hoped that his donation would inspire others, especially members of the military, to also donate to fellow veterans.
Born in Milledgeville, Ivey enlisted in the Army on July 30, 1942, and served in three wars — World War II, Korea and Vietnam. In November 1944, he and his B-17 bomber crew were shot down and evaded capture by the Germans for more than four months by hiding with Dutch families.
In July 1974, Ivey retired as a lieutenant colonel and moved to Acworth with his wife, Ruth. The couple was married for 64 years and was active in the Acworth United Methodist Church, the Southern Order of Storytellers and other civic and volunteer activities. Ivey was a charter member of Allatoona Charities Inc., which raises money to support the needy in Acworth and surrounding areas. Ruth died in January 2011.
Beth Hoeve of Roswell said her uncle was very proud of his military service and of others who had sacrificed for their country.
“He believed in Habitat for Humanity’s cause,” she said. “He felt he would like to give back to those who’ve given their lives and futures for it.”
Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit Christian housing organization founded in 1976 to provide simple and affordable housing for people in need. NW Metro Atlanta Habitat has built about 350 homes in Cobb since it was founded in 1986.
Camille Cordak, NW Metro Atlanta Habitat director of development, said the group expects homeowners and volunteers to complete 20 homes by the end of the year.
“We expect to build 10 to 11 new homes and do nine renovations of blighted properties to equal approximately 20 homes for lower-income families,” Cordak said.
She said the process of becoming a Habitat homeowner is as detailed as getting a mortgage from a bank. Once an applicant is determined to be qualified and approved by a family selection committee and board of directors, they must complete 300 hours of “sweat equity” by working on another person’s home, their own home and attending homeownership classes.
Habitat’s 25-year mortgages come with no interest and are roughly $105,000 for a new home, Cordak said.
Alvarado said he expects to be able to move into his new, one-story home in October. Sponsors for the build happening over the next several weeks are Lockheed Martin, Wells Fargo, Heath & Lineback Engineers, WellStar Acworth Health Park and Call2Recycle.
A native of Puerto Rico, Alvarado served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War. He injured his back at a base while lifting cargo into aircrafts headed to Vietnam and was forced to use a wheelchair after back surgery last year.
He and his wife have been married for nine years and have four grown children.
“The (rented) house we live in now is two stories, and with me being handicapped and in a wheelchair, it’s hard for me to get to the second-level where all of the bedrooms are at,” Alvarado said. “It’s actually a dream come true for us to own our own house.”
With the Alvarado house, NW Metro Atlanta Habitat plans to begin a program of building one house each year for a disabled veteran, in honor of Ivey.