Habitat Monroe prides itself on providing a hand-up, not a hand-out, to its homeowners. This sentiment rings especially true for our most recent homeowner Jennifer, who was in major need of a hand-up after life had dealt her a devastating blow.
Like many Habitat homeowners, Jennifer’s two young daughters served as her motivation to enter the program. After losing her husband to cancer in 2015, she quickly had to figure out life as a single mother.
“I wanted a home for my girls and I, and to continue the dream that my husband and I had,” she said.
Once Jennifer became the sole provider for her family, she said that it felt impossible that she would ever be able to buy a home. She felt discouraged from even attempting to go through a traditional lender. That’s when she saw a post on Facebook that Habitat Monroe was accepting applications for their homeownership program. Though she wasn’t quite sure exactly what the program was all about, she applied anyway, determined for a chance to give her daughters the best life that she possibly could.
“My way of thinking is that if you never try, you never know, and my girls deserved a backyard, sounds silly I know,” she said
A month after she applied in 2017, Jennifer was referred to the Habitat HOPE program, where financial coach Jeanette helps applicants work on their credit issues to better prepare them for homeownership.
“So many times, I felt like giving up,” Jennifer said. “It felt like I wasn’t ever going to be ready, especially with certain expenses that came up or continued but Jeanette encouraged me and didn’t give up on me.”
After months of working on her credit and debt issues, Jennifer was officially accepted into the Habitat homeownership program on March 22, 2018, right around her birthday.
“A lot of people say I am lucky to be getting a home through Habitat, but what they don’t realize is that I am blessed to be getting it,” she said. “I worked really hard to get here.”
Jennifer also praised Jeanette and Julie, the director of the homeownership program, for guiding her along the way through the program. She said that her dream of owning a home became attainable, thanks to the support she had from the people of Habitat.
Aside from working on her finances, Jennifer also had to physically work by completing the required amount of volunteer’s hours called Sweat Equity. Habitat homeowners must complete 200 hours of Sweat Equity by working on build sites and in the ReStore. This allows the homeowners to ‘pay it forward’ by helping other people that may be in their same position.
“I love volunteering,” Jennifer said. “I will continue to volunteer so I can help other families achieve their dreams. I take pride in my home a little more knowing that I put all this work into it as well.”
With only 14 volunteer hours left to complete as of July 2018, Jennifer has accepted the house that she was offered and expects to close on it at the end of July.
Jennifer also hopes to instill her hard-working mentality into her children, by teaching them to work towards their own dreams. “No matter the obstacles life throws at you, God will always put people in your path to get you through them, to get you where you are meant to be,” she said.
With her faith being so important in getting her through this journey, Jennifer already knows the first thing she will do in her new home. “The first thing I plan to do when I get into my home is just look up and say ‘thank you God.’”