Mayor Welch hands over keys to two new homeowners

Antwon Foster was ecstatic to receive the keys to his new Habitat for Humanity home on June 15. His home was sponsored by the 2022-23 Faith Build.


ST. PETERSBURG – Mayor Ken Welch welcomed two families to their new homes on June 15. The Middleton and Foster families are now next-door neighbors in the 830th and 831st Habitat for Humanity homes built in Pinellas and Pasco Counties.

Jasmine Middleton thanked God for bringing her together with Habitat for Humanity. 

“When I first started Habitat, a lot of stuff happened. I had a new job, I had a car accident, a new baby, a lot of trials and tribulations,” she explained, noting that God gave her the strength to get through it.

Middleton has two daughters — Chance and Jru – and is currently employed with the Pinellas County School Board. Her oldest daughter is described as an “outgoing girly girl” but has health issues.

“My daughter Chance is the true example of girl power. She was born with a heart defect that required her to have a heart transplant at just four months old,” said Middleton. “Since then, she has overcome many obstacles and undergone dozens of surgeries.”

Diagnosed with cerebral palsy, Middleton was told Chance might never walk or talk, but being the fighter that she is, she now dances ballet and enjoys bouncing a ball.

“I love being her mom and look forward to the opportunity to offer her the stability and comfort that owning a home brings.”

Father and daughter duo David and Jasmine Middleton with Mayor Ken Welch.

Less than a year ago, Middleton was brought into the Habitat office and surprised by her father, David Middleton, a preferred masonry contractor with Habitat, with the paperwork to start the program. For many, their parents lay the foundation for the person they will become. For Jasmine, her father also laid the foundation for her new home.

“He stayed on top of me from filling out the application to making sure I was doing all of my hours, giving me updates on the house every single day,” she said, adding that her mother also helped her complete all the requirements by babysitting her children.

Middleton completed over 350 sweat equity hours, where she helped build her house as well as others. She also completed 32 homebuyer education classes where she was taught everything she needed to know about owning a home, such as budgeting and finance, maintenance and repair, fire and safety tips, how to be a good neighbor and how to become involved in her community.

She was so excited to be handed the keys to her new home and to say goodbye to her old apartment, which was not conducive to a child with special needs. Her daughter does not do well with loud noises, and the apartment was situated on a busy street near a hospital.

Because of complaints from the downstairs neighbor, Chance had to sleep on a low-profile bed that was hard to get in and out of because of her cerebral palsy. Also, they experienced water leaks that caused the carpet to mildew.

Since becoming a homeowner, Middleton’s life will change for the better.

President and CEO of Habitat for Humanity Mike Sutton, Chance, Jasmine holding Jru with Bank of America’s Ann Shaler. Bank of America sponsored Jasmine Middleton’s home.

“Owning a home not only provides my family with stability but creates generational wealth.”

She is excited about celebrating holidays in their new home and inviting friends and family over to visit.

The Fosters

Right after dedicating Middleton’s home, the Habitat crew walked to the next dedication, which was next door at Antwon Foster’s new home. He was ecstatic to receive the keys to his new house from Mayor Welch. 

“This is all about empowerment — economic empowerment — and making that investment that is going to pay dividends in the years to come,” said Welch. “This is one of the best economic investments these families can have, through sweat equity and having a great partner like Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco Counties.”

With each home dedication, a prayer is said to bless the homeowner and their new house. Rev. Rhonda Blevins from Chapel by the Sea blessed Antwon Foster’s home.

Foster works in the transportation and parking department for the City of St. Petersburg and has had legal care of his 18-year-old sister, Westeria, for three years after their mother passed away.

The siblings were renting an older home that was a financial drain. The house had problems that caused them to pay higher than normal utilities. On top of that, their rent continued to rise, making their living situation unaffordable.

Foster wanted a permanent and reliable living situation that would allow them to live comfortably, a place they could call their own. And he did just that. In eight short months, he completed the homebuyer education classes and the required 350 sweat equity hours.

Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco Counties President and CEO Mike Sutton mentioned that his friend was just underwritten for a mortgage at almost 10 percent.

“And so, we know that the rising interest rates are making it harder and harder for people to obtain housing,” said Sutton, noting that Middleton and Foster won’t have to worry about that.

Those who go through the Habitat program purchase their homes with a zero-interest mortgage, which will guarantee the affordability of their homes for the duration of the home loan.

At all the home dedication ceremonies, the homeowner is presented with a Bible, symbolic of having all of life’s answers found between its two covers, and a hammer representing the sweat equity hours that went into building a Habitat for Humanity home.

Congratulations to the Middleton and Foster families!

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