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Impact Stories

 

Opal, Habitat Homeowner, Springfield Township

Opal had been rebuilding her life after a recent divorce and looking for a place that she and her young sons could not only call home, but also grow and feel stable in for years to come. When Opal did her first walkthrough of her house, she got a glimpse of exactly what she had been searching for. Although still under construction at the time, Opal was brought to tears of elation by the sight of her kitchen. She said, “We’re gonna bake SO MANY cookies! 

Opal and her sons moved into their new Habitat home this summer. They’ve settled into the small neighborhood with 5 other Habitat Homeowners in Springfield on a quiet stretch of road in the richly agricultural town. Her children enjoy waving at the donkeys grazing on the farm across the street, playing in the yard, and of course, making sweet treats in the kitchen together. 

Opal shared a heartfelt message at her home dedication ceremony, “I was an early teenager when I found out that when a church pays off their mortgage, they paint the doors red. It’s the first thing that they do. It’s a sign of ownership, that they have a free and clear bill. It was always my dream to be able to own a home and paint my door red. I want to thank all of you from the bottom of my heart, because in 30 years you guys can all come by, drive by my house because that door will be the brightest shade of red you have ever seen.” 

 

Raul, Habitat Homeowner, Mays Landing

Raul works as a night auditor, while his wife Maribel is a housekeeper. They have three children who are active in school and recreational activities. Previously, the family lived in a two-bedroom apartment with narrow hallways and stairs that made it difficult for Raul to get around with his physical disabilities. Now, the family owns a home built with Raul’s accessibility needs in mind, with features like being one level with minimal steps and a walk-in shower.  

Raul expressed his gratitude to the volunteers and everyone who has made his family’s path to homeownership a reality, “Thank you, to all of you. This means the world not only to me, but to my wife and my kids. The fact that where we lived, even taking a shower was a process because I had to jump and step. Now I can take a shower normally without having to be careful or fall. Everyone involved, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. Without you guys, without your support, your contributions this would not have happened.” 

  And the home isn’t just fit for his needs, Raul says, because the dead end street makes it safer for the children when they bike and play outside with less fear of traffic while the yard and kitchen are great for Maribel’s hobbies of gardening and cooking. The family looks forward to making memories in their new home with all these things they love. 

 

Shanika, Habitat Homeowner, Hightstown

For Shanika and her two adolescent children, their new home is place of solace. The family previously lived in Trenton in in a one-bedroom apartment, where they had to wait weeks for their landlord to respond to maintenance requests. Prior to the pandemic, Shanika looked for a larger apartment, but was so discouraged by how expensive housing in her area was. Then, with onset of Covid-19, affordable housing options were even scarcer. Luckily, Shanika discovered Habitat’s Affordable Homeownership Program and learned that her monthly mortgage payment for a 3-bedroom home would be less than the cost of a three-bedroom apartment. She will now be able to raise her daughters in a safe environment and stable place that they can all call home. 

Homeownership means stability to Shanika, and gives her a sense of accomplishment to know she was able to find a solution that will have a great impact on her children for years to come. She says, “My daughters will see that you can accomplish anything you set your mind to. My family will have comfort and that means so much to me.”  

As a homeowner, Shanika looks forward to maintaining her home with the information she learned by attending workshops on plumbing, gardening and painting. She is excited to explore her new community and has enjoyed volunteering on the construction site of future Habitat properties. Most importantly, Shanika is looking forward to worrying less because she has affordable mortgage payments and will be able to focus more on the wellbeing of her family. 

 

Tony and Abby, Habitat Homeowner, Palmyra 

Tony House, a former combat medic with the Pennsylvania National Guard, hit rock bottom and experienced foreclosure after his career in the mortgage industry came to a screeching halt during the 2008 financial crisis.  For several years, Tony and his wife Abby lived paycheck to paycheck, scaling back to make ends meet. Despite these challenges, Tony experienced two more setbacks. He sustained injuries in a serious car accident and was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

During this challenging time, Tony volunteered with a local nonprofit and through his volunteerism he met representatives from Habitat and learned about the Veterans Build program.

Today, Tony and Abby are proud homeowners of a 3-bedroom, 1-bath home in Palmyra – on the site of the former Tri-Boro Veterans building, which served veterans from Palmyra, Riverton and Cinnaminson. Palmyra Borough donated land for the homes.

“It was a very challenging and stressful time for 10 years and I never thought I would get back on my feet let alone own a home again. Habitat was fantastic and worked diligently to help us through the process.”   … Tony