October 20, 2013
Two years after a tragic death, Fluvanna County Habitat for Humanity is helping a family give back after one of its own was taken away.
Fluvanna County resident Brent Hawkins died in a car accident in July of 2011.
"It has been a really tough two years for us as a family. It was such a sudden, shocking death," said Brent's wife, Bernadette Hawkins.
While those close to him sought ways to cope, they also looked for ways to give back.
"Habitat was my son's favorite charity," said Richard Hawkins. "He started going on mission projects with church when he was 13, 14, 15 years old, and anything that he could do to help someone out, that was his passion."
Brent's minister suggested a memorial build to celebrate the 29-year-old father, son, husband and friend's life.
"We just thought it was a great idea. It would be a way that we could carry on his memory, we could honor him," said Richard Hawkins.
"The Brent Build" became a way to turn his death into a new beginning for someone else. Family, friends, co-workers and church members helped construct a house in Habitat's Cedar Ridge subdivision.
"We just feel like this whole process was very healing for us in our grief journey," said Bernadette Hawkins.
Habitat for Humanity selected Fluvanna County resident Gail Washington Bruce to move into the home.
"Their tragedy is my blessing," said Bruce. "And to me, I hope I can bring them closure because I know my house was built with love."
Bruce and Brent's family met for the first time at Sunday's home dedication.
"She's thanked us, but I really feel like we should thank her because this has meant the world to all of us, to all of his family," said Bernadette Hawkins.
"I think it gives them some sense of closure that, out of this tragedy, something really tangible and good has come out of it," said Jenni Whitehead, executive director of Fluvanna County Habitat for Humanity.
This was Fluvanna County Habitat for Humanity's 15th home dedication.
Bruce will have to wait a little longer than anticipated to get the keys to the home, however. The government shutdown delayed the paperwork process.