Jasper Keys doesn't just play lip service to "keeping your house in order." This 2007 Habitat Homeowner of the Year recipient does so - literally and figuratively. Keys was in the running to win this year's coveted award because of his outstanding mortgage payment history. Candidates must pay their mortgage on time for 12 straight months to be eligible. Habitat's Family Support Committee then reviews how well candidates have maintained their homes.
Keys "jumped to the head of the line," according to Libby Kuipers, Habitat for Humanity of Kent County's Homeownership Coordinator, "for two reasons. Jasper has improved his property, and he's a remarkable role model for his 15 year old son, J.J." (Jasper Jr.).
Over the course of the past 12 months, Keys has installed a fence in his backyard to ensure Tyson, the family dog, stayed put. He also had the lawn fertilized ("I burned it up the first time"), and redid the wood chips in the flower beds.
Most notably, however, is Keys' influence on his son, and his encouraging him to keep his life in order. "I just try to show him responsibility," Keys modestly admits, "and hanging out in the streets can lead to trouble. If you work hard, in the long run, it pays off. I tell him it may not seem like it at the time, but it's true. Just play by the rules."
Wise words from a man who leads - and plays - by example. When Keys isn't caring for his son and his home, he plays the piano at Bethel Pentecostal Church, as well as for private weddings, parties, and events.