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Habitat homeowners work hard for their home, attending home buyer preparedness classes and putting in hundreds of hours of sweat equity on the job site and ReStores to be able to purchase their home with an affordable mortgage. Just like all of us, they are working to build a better home for themselves and their families.

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Kaniece had a long journey into the Habitat Homeownership Program. When she first applied to Habitat, she was denied, but was given advice on how to qualify in the future. Like many people, she didn’t fully realize how difficult it is to be approved for homeownership with Habitat. Not discouraged, she took this advice to heart and worked to build up her credit and prepare to become a homeowner. On her third application, she was finally approved.

“I want to build a foundation for my children,” Kaniece says about her future Habitat home. “A Habitat home means security and a place to call our own. They can run around and be kids.”

Kaniece also has an older daughter who tragically passed away earlier this year. She finds strength in knowing that she is working to build a better life in memory of her daughter.

“Habitat believes in us,” she says. “They are standing by our side and pushing us towards being the independent people we need to be to own a home and hold down a mortgage.”

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LaShayla has been hoping for the stability, space, and privacy a home would bring her and her family for many years. She wants to show her children Traylen, Terralyn, and Sierra that through hard work, anything is possible. Shay works in the non-profit field and her natural compassion shows in her commitment to Habitat.

One issue that affects many low-income renters is high utility bills. Shay has seen bills up to $500 a month in the winter for her heating bill, and can’t wait for the energy-efficiency that a Habitat home will provide.

“A Habitat home would make my life much more fulfilling,” says Shay. “Becoming a homeowner has been a dream of mine for years. Habitat for Humanity will help make that come true.”

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Laura has always worked to provide the best for her three boys, Jaron, Grayson, and Wyatt, but buying a home has seemed out of reach for many years. Her pregnancy with twins set her back financially, but Laura never gave up, and went back to school to earn her college degree. She now works for the School City of Mishawaka, and is excited about the partnership between Habitat and the Mishawaka community.

“Having a home for my boys means security and stability and a feeling of community,” Laura says. “So far my favorite thing about Habitat is meeting all the other families who have worked hard to achieve this opportunity.”

In fact, her children have already made friends with their future neighbors in their new neighborhood in Mishawaka. The boys are looking forward to having space to play outside and new friends to play with.

“The Habitat program is special,” she says. “There is so much pride you take in ownership and knowing that you helped build it.”

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Ambera has been praying that her family could have a place of their own. Throughout the Habitat selection process, she believed and stayed positive. But it was hard to stay calm when the long awaited call finally came through at work.

Ambera was eager to throw herself into earning sweat equity. After her first long day of building on the construction site, she was excited to see the blister that formed – a byproduct of hard work. Ambera cannot wait to start working on her own home.

For Charity, age 6, the new home also means going to a new school which she looks forward to. Two year old Azaylia is ready to play soccer in her own back yard and decorate her own room. Their mother is happy that they will live in a safe neighborhood for the girls to ride their bikes.

For Ambera, ‘stability’ is the word that sums up what a Habitat home means most. She wants to be a role model for her two young daughters, showing them the importance of hard work and prayer as well as appreciating your blessings.

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Kim has worked hard to provide a safe and stable home for her son. She felt stuck, moving from rental property to rental property, until family members told her about Habitat for Humanity. Since applying, she has learned from and felt empowered by the new experiences Habitat has provided.

“A Habitat home means a place where my son can grow up, and we won’t have to leave our memories behind,” she says. “It’s a new chance, something that I never thought I could have. Habitat for Humanity has given that to us, and I’m so thankful.”

Kim has enjoyed working alongside her family completing sweat equity on the construction site, and is thankful to all volunteers and donors for allowing her to have this great opportunity.

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Farhat and her two children, Hannan and Faryal, are thrilled about the opportunity to move into a new Habitat home. Six years ago, they emigrated from Pakistan to be with their family in South Bend.

They looked forward to new opportunity in a new country, but knew that it wouldn’t be easy. They have been living in a second-floor apartment, where Farhat’s elderly parents can’t visit. Farhat is happy that her new home has a zero-step entry so her parents can visit any time they like.

Hannan and Faryal are both in college and both work, but they still find time to support their mother in completing sweat equity.

“I must say that we are happy,” Farhat says. “Sometimes we are speechless. We can’t express the feelings that we have when we think about having our own home.”

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Heather has been searching for path to homeownership for several years, and finally found Habitat for Humanity as a way to reach her goal. She and her son have called many places “home” over the years, and are ready for the stability that homeownership provides. They are excited for a neighborhood where they will know their neighbors and not have to keep moving from place to place.

Heather is still trying to believe that this is really happening for her family. In the meantime, she has enjoyed learning new skills both on and off the build site to help her become a successful homeowner. Heather is working on her nursing degree, works full time as a CNA, and still has managed to work on her Sweat Equity and homeownership education classes with dedication.

“When I have the keys in hand, and walk into the house for the first time, then I can say this is my home and these are my walls. Then this will all feel real.”

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Kelema hasn’t always done things the easy way. This year, she has been working full-time, raising her two boys, working in the Habitat program, and she just earned her certification to become a medical assistant. We are proud of all she has achieved so far, and look forward to her family purchasing a new home as part of the 2018 Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project.

“I’m looking forward to having a safe home where we can all spend time together,” Kelema says about her family. “My boys have always shared a room and have never experienced the comfort and stability of living in a stable home.”

When her sons, Isaiah and Xavier, talk about their mom, they express how she has set a strong example, always demonstrating the importance of hard work.

Kelema says her favorite part about the Habitat program has been the Homeowner Education classes, where she has learned how to better save money and manage her finances to continue building a better future for her family.

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Nusrat and her son Nishorgo are excited to be a part of the 2018 Carter Work Project. Nusrat is originally from Bangladesh, a small country bordering India.

Her family immigrated to the United States; her brother came in first, and could only bring his family after years of working. She waited 12 years for the opportunity to have a better life in America. After coming to the US, she spent 13 years renting apartments, and is ready to own an affordable home that she can take pride in.

“A Habitat home is very settling for me. It means solid ground, and now I can think about something else other than my living situation. If you are renting and can’t afford your payments, you are not settled at all, it’s not your own … I will own something, and that is pride, strength, and independence.”

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Valencia moved into her apartment when she was 18, and has been paying rent for years while finishing her college degree and working hard to advance her career. But each year, rent rises and crime continues in her apartment complex, and these issues serve as reminders that her apartment will never be home.

“As a single woman, having a decent home in a safe environment is important to me,” Valencia says. “I can’t wait to decorate my own space and show it off to everyone I can.”

Valencia has learned more than she expected in the Habitat program.

“I’ve loved learning all I can from the Habitat classes, especially about finances and nutrition,” she says. “I’m so impressed by Habitat – I tell everyone I can about it.”

Valencia says that Habitat is like a family. All the volunteers, donors, staff, and homeowners really come together to support each other and make her new home a reality.

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Deborah and Geoffrey are grateful for their opportunity to be a part of Habitat for Humanity. The couple of 25 years is looking forward to the stability of a new home—the first home they will ever own.

Recently, Deb and Geoff became foster parents. Their future Habitat home will provide a safe haven for children during their time of need. They are excited to use the blessing of a Habitat home to serve others, through foster parenting and volunteering on the Habitat construction site. It is a challenge to manage the responsibilities of the Habitat program and foster parenting, but they know that this challenge brings with it a great benefit.

“There are no words to describe how it will feel,” Geoffrey says. “Just to say this is our home. Come to our home. It will be ours for the first time.”

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The Orozco family is grateful to be purchasing a home with Habitat for Humanity of St. Joseph County. They are especially proud to be a part of the 2018 Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project.

Athena is a dedicated, hard-working mom raising her three active boys. Athena and her children Sylvester,  Carmine, and Malik are constantly on the go playing basketball, baseball, and football. After years of moving into different rental properties, she decided to apply to the homeownership program. She most looks forward to a home where her family memories can all be made and shared in one spot, and that her children will always know they can come home to.

“I am so glad I applied for this program and can have this great opportunity for my family,” Athena says. “We will be able to have things that we never could before.”

Athena is proud to be building her own home and knows the financial and home maintenance skills she is learning will be a great benefit in her family’s long-term future.

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Benito, Jhunixa, and their two little ones, Isabelle and B.J., have some differing feelings about their new home with Habitat for Humanity. Benito and Jhunixa still can’t believe that they were approved for the Habitat program. They say it’s too good to be true! The kids are less suspicious and mostly just ready to have their own yard and their own rooms.

Their family has spent the last few years living in a 2-bedroom apartment. The children have to share a room, and they cannot play outside. During this time, Benito and Jhunixa have been working hard to earn steady incomes and improve their credit in order to purchase a home. They have spent years dreaming about what their own home would look like, and now, thanks to hard work and determination, they are able to achieve that dream.

“We have worked to fix credit and reduce debt, but it is a long process, and we never thought we would be able to own a home,” they say. “We are so thankful that we found Habitat, because even though we are working hard, it would be impossible for us to get close to owning a home without the hand-up from Habitat for Humanity.”

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The Santiesteban family is excited to be a part of the Habitat program and all that it will bring. Ericka is a self-proclaimed “baseball mom” and spends most of her time at the diamond with her sons Leif “J” and Ky while not at work. The family is excited to have a space to grow in, a place for toys, and a yard for their dog, “Batman.” They are extremely thankful for the support they’ve received.

Throughout completing the Homeowner Education courses and Sweat Equity hours, Ericka has been not only eager to learn but eager to help others along the way as she picks up new skills and knowledge.

The word “stability” speaks to Ericka in a great way when asked what Habitat will do for her family. A home to them means a place to come back to that is familiar, permanent, and doesn’t need to be left behind. “It means my kids don’t have to walk away from their memories. It means something they can be proud of and so that they can be proud of me.”

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Amanda works hard to provide shelter, safety and stability for her daughters.

She never felt like she could qualify for a Habitat home, and at times worked three different jobs just to stay afloat. “If it wasn’t for this program, I wouldn’t be able to buy a house,” she says.

With the help of Habitat, Amanda and her daughters look forward to having their own rooms, their own yard, and not having to carry groceries up three flights of stairs to their apartment anymore. They are excited to have enough room to be able to invite friends and family over and be proud of what they have achieved.

Sonya and Alexis will be able to stay in their current school system and are happy they can continue to go to school with their friends. They are excited about the endless possibilities that being in a new home brings. They know that their new home and the volunteers are an answer to many years of prayers.

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Cleora is showing her kids the importance of working hard. She has been with the same employer for five years, raised 4 children on her own, and maintained a positive attitude that encourages those around her. Despite this, she has felt stuck in apartment living and concerned about her children’s future.

“I don’t want to be just another statistic,” Cleora says. “I want to make a difference. I want to be someone my children can look up to and know anything is possible as long as you work hard.”
Cleora was inspired to apply for Habitat when she considered the long-term care of JaNaiya, her daughter with autism.

“Having an autistic child has its challenges. I know that she will be in my care for the majority of her life and I want her to be comfortable and have consistency.”

Their family will be building alongside President and Mrs. Carter, as well as hundreds of volunteers from around the world, as part of the 2018 Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project.

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Allen and Rosetta are an engaged couple working together for their dream home. Allen is a military veteran who takes pride in the sweat equity his family is contributing to Habitat.

“We have been wanting to own our own home for so long, and this opportunity is such a blessing,” Rosetta says.

Rosetta loves the community that Habitat is building. A new Habitat neighborhood means a fresh start full of neighbors who all went through the same program.

“Our favorite thing about Habitat for Humanity is the people,” she says. “The care, the support, the volunteers … we’ve learned a lot in this program.”

Their two sons, Jowan and Alex are excited to have their own rooms. Alex has already made friends with his future neighbors, and looks forward to having a place to play outside.

BENNETT FAMILY Big Idea

Anneliese and her children, Skyler, Nathaniel, and Isabella, are excited to purchase a new home with Habitat for Humanity. Anneliese is most looking forward to have more space outside for the kids (and their dog Sandy) to play outside.

Isabella can’t ride her bike outside at their current rental house. The street is too busy and unsafe. Last year, someone stole her bike from their yard and they had to buy a new one.

Anneliese is working hard to make sure her children have a safe home and community to grow up in. Her oldest, Skyler, is even helping by attending homeowner education classes to learn about homeownership and help his mom earn sweat equity.

Isabella says that “at our new house we will have wide streets where cars go slower and the neighborhood is safe … I got a new bike and will be able to ride it every day thanks to Habitat for Humanity. I want everybody to help Habitat.”