Alice Smith always thought you had to have young children in order to apply for Habitat for Humanity’s homeownership program. That was until her co-worker at Alexian Brothers Community Services: PACE told her otherwise.
“I had heard about Habitat and saw some advertisements on TV. And I knew President Jimmy Carter was a part of it. One of my brothers also told me I should apply,” said Ms. Alice, as her Habitat Family affectionately calls her. “Then one day my coworker, LaKisha Brown, said she was coming to Habitat to pay her mortgage. She told me I should apply, and that she was bringing me back an application.”
Having rented an apartment in the same complex for more than 20 years, Ms. Alice was a little leery about completing the application. But, she did and was eventually approved by the Habitat Board of Directors.
“I didn’t expect to be selected. I always wanted to own a home, but I didn’t think I could financially,” she said. Ms. Alice had been a lifelong renter since childhood when she lived with her parents and three siblings. “I dreamed about having a home and being able to look out the window in my kitchen. I always wanted a weeping willow in my backyard.”
That weeping willow is well within reach, along with a spacious front porch and flower bed she plans to have at her new home located in The Villages at Alton Park. Yet, this road to homeownership hasn’t exactly been a bed of roses for Ms. Alice. She has managed to juggle a full-time job as a dietary aide (she’s responsible for preparing the desserts); perform more than 300 hundred sweat equity hours; and help regularly care for her elderly mother, who turns 97 in September 2015. “Anything worth having, you’ll make the sacrifice for,” said Ms. Alice, who knows something about sacrifice since she primarily raised her three sons alone after her divorce.
Also a grandmother of four, Ms. Alice confessed she hasn’t always followed through with accomplishing her goals. But working alongside such dedicated volunteers and her much-younger Partner Family peers has inspired her not to give up.
“I’ve started projects and stopped, but this was one thing I was determined to finish,” she said. “I prayed about it and asked the Lord to give me the strength and courage to go through with this until the finish. He has so far, and I know He’ll see me the rest of the way. I have enjoyed the journey.”
And so has Habitat!
“The sweat equity piece is very important. To have input makes you take pride in your home. You have a sense of love and a sense of community. I have enjoyed the journey.”
Funding Provided By:
City of Chattanooga, Office of Economic and Community Development,
Andy Berke, Mayor
Additional funding, support, Services or Materials provided by:
Chattanooga Area Volunteers
Daughters of the American Revolution, Chief John Ross Chapter
The Embroiderers’ Guild of America, Chattanooga Chapter
The HART Gallery
State Farm Insurance -Hamilton Co. Agents
St. Francis of Assisi Episcopal Church
Two Men and a Truck