Dashanda Player spends her life working for students at the University of Kentucky, where she is a custodian and a security monitor at the William T. Young Library.
Now, three UK student groups are coming together to work for her. With the help of the students' fund-raising and labor, Player is about to become the first person in her family to own a home. What's more, she's helping to build it.
Earlier this year, Lexington Habitat for Humanity told Player, 35, that her build had been moved up. The students had raised enough money to sponsor Player's house.
"I was excited," she said. "I felt really blessed. This is the best opportunity in the world for me. Words can't even explain it."
Player said she was touched by the UK community's display of support .
"I'm getting to know the students on a personal level rather than just seeing them," she said.
The project has had 100 volunteers, all affiliated with UK. Construction began in the parking lot of Commonwealth Stadium this weekend. On Monday, the framed walls were transported to a lot on Breathitt Avenue, west of Georgetown Street.
The students wanted to begin construction on site Monday in honor of World Habitat Day. The first Monday of October is set aside by the Habitat for Humanity organization as a day to advocate for affordable housing worldwide and raise awareness about "poverty housing."
The $42,500 cost of the project will be raised entirely by the UK community; the students have raised half of the money.
The money will pay for building supplies and subcontracting of the foundation and concrete work. It also will play for the plumbing, electrical, heating and air conditioning, and other work that requires a license. A small portion of the money will be sent to build a home in a developing country, where $4,500 can fund the completion of a home.
"It's a one-for-one kind of thing," said Diane James, Habitat construction operations manager. "It's like building two houses."
James, who was on site to oversee the home's construction, said Player is required to provide 250 hours of what Habitat calls "sweat equity." That means Player, her friends and family must work on their house alongside volunteers for 250 hours — a down payment for the house, James said.
Then, Player will pay an interest-free mortgage. The mortgage payment is limited to no more than 18 percent of her gross income, so it remains affordable.
Habitat families also may benefit from the organization's family services department, which provides resources and support. And Habitat requires financial and maintenance classes to qualify. Player said some of the class's content about financial responsibility and home ownership was new to her.
Lexington Habitat for Humanity builds 15 to 20 homes a year. More than 500,000 are built annually by Habitat for Humanity internationally. This year's 500,000th house was finished in Kenya on Monday; construction on the 500,001st house in under way in New Jersey.
Player, a Lexington native, is the mother of four and grandmother of one. Her youngest, Justice, 12, is excited to have a yard in which to play. And these happen to be the same streets that Dashanda played on as a child. Her grandparents live just two blocks from her new home, and her mother is three blocks away.
UK students Dan Wavering and Seth Fortenbery worked together to organize the student volunteers and the fund-raising. Fortenbery said the project gives UK students the opportunity to see areas of Lexington they don't often visit. It also works to increase the intimacy between UK students and the Lexington community.