I am passionate about Habitat for Humanity because I know it works. I’ve watched the process change lives over the many years I’ve been involved with this organization but most importantly, it was instrumental in changing my own life.
In 2001 I found myself alone with my four young boys in a small apartment I could barely afford. The boys had no place to play and I was expected to keep them quiet and calm at all times. Although I was grateful to no longer be living out of my car, the frequent inspections and complaints about my children’s noise made life very difficult. I lived in fear each day that our circumstances would leave me without options but I just couldn’t envision any way to improve our situation.
A family member suggested I apply for a home through the newly formed “Columbia County Habitat for Humanity” in my hometown. I was so excited to be chosen as their very first partner family! Some people believe that these homes are free, but instead they are low (or no) interest loans for homes built with many volunteer hours and sometimes donated materials that keeps costs affordable. It is a “hand up” instead of a “hand out”. Nevertheless, I was frequently overwhelmed by the number of total strangers who worked alongside me and my family to help build my beautiful 3-bedroom home.
My boys and I contributed the required “sweat equity hours” by helping out at the site after I got off work. At first we cut brush off the property and shoveled gravel to set up for the initial ground breaking ceremony. The boys learned how to set up drywall and helped paint. It just amazes me that so many people came from so many walks of life to help. I loved to see this. The people weren’t looking for recognition or praise, they just wanted to do something small to make someone’s life a little better.
All these years later, I still love my home! I never imagined when my boys were little that it would happen. Because of the low mortgage, I knew that even if I lost my job at Safeway, I could still be able to pay the mortgage with any other job I could find. That sense of security was so comforting. The day we finally were no longer on any state assistance was so scary and exciting – it was the best day ever!
Nowhere is the “it takes a village” theme more evident than with our local Habitat for Humanity. Manufacturers frequently donate materials, local businesses donate volunteer labor, and families, neighbors and groups give freely of their time – all working towards the mission of decent, affordable housing for deserving families. When everyone chips in, the whole community benefits.
David and Shandi's Story
The day that we were approved for our home thru habitat was the day our dream of giving our family a forever home came true. At the time, we had been couch surfing from one family members’ home to the next with two children, trying to find a home we could afford. We had previously gone thru the application process with habitat but had not been the chosen family either time. This time, our circumstances had changed and our need was higher than before. Habitat worked with us, was patient while we paid off some debt and helped us step by step through the application and interview phase of the process. After being chosen, things really started and all of a sudden our house was being built. We couldn’t have been happier to get the hands on experience of building our home. It was a whirl wind of knowledge and experience all at once. Our children got to watch as our home went from being a dirt pile, to having walls, to being a fully done home and a couple years later, we still talk about the experience of building our house. We were blessed to get into our home 14 days before Christmas and it was the greatest gift our family could ever ask for. The day we got our keys, we couldn’t wait to move in! In fact, we moved in that exact afternoon. Our family couldn’t wait to have our first Christmas in our new home. Now 2.5 years later, we continue living in our affordable home, with no doubt that choosing to not give up was the best decision we ever made. We have something now that we never thought was possible. A home that our children will grow up in and close to the schools they attend. Habitat homes are affordable so we have the comfort of knowing we will never have to worry about overpriced house causing us to be without a home again. We refer any family looking for a home to look into the program habitat offers, even if you aren’t chosen the first time you try, you never know what’s going to happen the next time.