When 3-year-old Peighton McWhorter starts pre-kindergarten, she won't have far to go. School will be right across the street.
Peighton and her older siblings – sister Hailey and brother Tyler – along with their parents, Donald and Danielle McWhorter, took possession of their new home Thursday morning, located on S.E. 19th Avenue across from Lamar Elementary School.
The attractive and modern brick, two-car garage home was provided by the Prestwood-O'Neal Home Foundation, the fourth home the foundation has built and given a family in Mineral Wells. All the foundation asks is the family take care of it, and raise their children in a happy and loving home, making a lifetime of memories.
A fracking technician, Donald McWhorter told the Prestwood-O'Neal Home Foundation board members and others who build and prepare the home it was hard to express how grateful he and his family are.
"There is not much you can say about something like this," he told the group gathered on the driveway. "From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you so much. It is really special."
As the group toured the home's interior, Danielle McWhorter said the home means everything to her and the family that has seen its share of economic ups and downs.
"I have prayed about this for years," she said.
"This changes everything," Donald McWhorter said. "You come to that point and you're going to go left or right."
The other three homes built by the foundation in the last decade are still occupied by the original families the homes were deeded to, including the third home made for a handicapped child.
The foundation exists to not only help change people's lives, but to honor the memories of Jerry Prestwood and Susan O'Neal, and now her husband, Don O'Neal, who passed away early Thursday afternoon after an illness.
"It just means a lot to give back to the community that my mother, and entire family, loved so dearly," said the foundation's Scott O'Neal at the dedication, before learning of his father's passing.
Foundation board member Rhett Warren oversaw the project, working with general contractor Terry Maston and Maston Construction. Maston entirely donated his time and work on the home that included overseeing and working with the subcontractors, some who either donated or discounted their labor, and in some cases obtained donated or discounted supplies and fixtures.
Warren said giving a family a home not only changes their fortunes now, but could impact them for generations to come.
"It is good to know you are helping good, hard-working people who have had a little bad luck," Warren said. "For me, it is just making it so that the McWhorters can experience the same childhood I did."
Families are nominated as candidates for the homes from people in the community, Warren said. They are then screened to check job backgrounds and to look for any criminal histories.
He said the home cost around $110,000 to build, including the in-kind donations, about 20 percent less than if constructed without the discounts and donations.
Additionally, the foundation donated the adjoining lot to Habitat for Humanity, which has announced its plans to begin building and rehabbing homes in Mineral Wells. Habitat is expected to begin building on the donated lot within the next couple of months.
Scott O'Neal said the foundation has not decided if it will build a fifth home, especially with Habitat for Humanity coming to town.
"We might let them take the ball and run with it," he said.
Thanked along Terry Maston and Maston Construction, other contractors and businesses that helped in the construction and in reducing the labor and supplies costs were Pratt & Garrett Law Office, Forterra/Meridian Brick, Arrow Air and Insulation, Always Plumbing, CWM Construction, Piertech Engineering, Amy Hopkins Designs and her husband, Tim Hopkins, Farmers Insurance-Brad Jones, Elliott and Waldron Abstract Co., Nix Rental Homes, Jose's Seamless Gutters, Freeze Carpets, Lighting Etc., Zinn's Lawncare and Texas Surveying.