Monthly Archives: February 2017

Sammy and Lucy – Home Builder’s Blitz

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To earn a living for his family, Sammy cleaned upholstered furniture in other people’s homes in his native Nairobi, Kenya for $30 per day. He would start at 8 a.m., take a 30-minute lunch break, and then get off work at 6 or 7 at night. He and his wife, Lucy, along with their sons, David and Onesmus, lived in a modest, two bedroom brick house in Kenya’s capital where they paid $70 a month for rent. Lucy stayed home and took care of the house. Their adult sons shared a bedroom – and still do to this day.

“That is why we had to come (to the Unites States) to try to get better opportunities for jobs,” Sammy said, as well as seek safe, decent and affordable housing.

Sammy and his family took part in the U.S. Green Card Card Lottery Program for 18 years in hopes of coming to America. “If you are lucky, you are selected and get a chance to come here. They select more than 1,000 (Kenyans) a year to come all over the United States.”

He and Lucy had heard about the Scenic City from a Kenyan friend who had attended college here. The friend eventually introduced the couple to a Chattanoogan who would later become their “Host Family.”  Sammy and Lucy were blessed as their family was finally  selected from the online lottery. And although they’d known each other since childhood through their affiliation with a Protestant church in Kenya, they were married in May 2014 and moved here one month later. And through the generosity of a local benefactor, their sons followed suit that September. (Sammy’s first wife and mother of his sons had previously passed away.)

“We were trying to come here. We had heard the United States was a very powerful country,” Lucy said. She and Sammy agreed that making the transition to living and working here was a smooth one. “We had so many people help us with everything – from utensils for the kitchen to mattresses and beds – everything! We have so much!” said Lucy, who works as a laborer for Pilgrim’s Pride.

The couple’s Host Family also assisted them with rental housing. They soon learned about Habitat from a parent of a former student at Bright School where Sammy works as a janitor. And after living here one year, they applied for the program and were accepted in the fall of 2015.  “We’ve been telling people about Habitat so much,” Lucy said. “I try to tell them how they can buy their house. If you don’t have a lot of money, Habitat is a good project.”

Sammy, who is known on the construction jobsites for his strong work ethic, said he’s grateful that his sons, ages 21 and 19, will soon have separate bedrooms. His eldest is studying at Chattanooga State to become an electrical engineer while his younger son, who’s undecided about his major, also attends the technical college. With their own space, Sammy said they will be able to better focus on their studies.

Truly, home is where the heart is and this family is almost home!

Funding provided by:

Trust Construction

Henderson Hutcherson & McCullough

 Collier Construction

City of Chattanooga

Department of Economic and Community Development

Andy Berke. Mayor

Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga

Additional funding, support, Services or Materials provided by:

Chattanooga Area Volunteers

Daughters of the American Revolution, Chief John Ross Chapter

DOW Chemicals

The Embroiderers’ Guild of America, Chattanooga Chapter

The HART Gallery

Square D

State Farm Insurance -Hamilton Co. Agents

St. Francis of Assisi Episcopal Church

Two Men and a Truck

Valspar Paint

Whirlpool Corporation

Yale Locks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fanetta – Hamico Foundation – Completed

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Stability is something that Fanetta craved for herself, but more so for her 6-year-old son, Thaddius. When she was a child living with her mother and two sisters, the family often moved around from one rental dwelling to another. “The last thing I want to do is have him bouncing like I was bouncing because I hated that,” she said.

And while those “bouncing” days are a thing of the past, Fanetta’s looking forward to settling down for quite a while in her new Habitat home. Her house is being sponsored in part by Hamico Foundation. and will be located in the historic Glass Farm District.

A former co-worker told Fanetta about Habitat. And since becoming a Partner Family, she said her journey toward homeownership has been a rewarding one – especially when construction started on her house. “I really enjoyed pulling up my walls. To visually see that,” she said. “They unload the walls off the truck and then they bring them out and lay them in place. Putting those walls up really made my day! It put things in perspective.”

Fanetta was also fascinated to see longtime Habitat volunteer Diane Barnes lead her wall-raising effort. Diane and her husband, Don, have actually led thousands of volunteers in building walls for all of the Affiliate’s homes for some 20-plus years. Fanetta said at one point during her wall raising, someone suggested Diane had been a little “off” on one of her measurements. “Diane said,

Absolutely not!’,” Fanetta chuckled. “To me, it just looked like a bunch of wood pieces lying there, but to her (Diane), she could see it (the finished product) and she knew exactly where everything would go.”  While some folks get excited about the smell of a new car, Fanetta said, “I’m looking forward to smelling the fresh aroma of a new home!” These days, she’s been mulling over decorating ideas, and  pondering all of her color options.

A full-time caregiver at the Helen Ross McNabb Center, Fanetta said she’s not exactly sure what her future holds but trusts it will be great. She’d like to continue her college education once she and Thaddius have settled into their new place.  “I’m just asking the Lord to show me what it is You would have me to do in life. I need that insight sometimes from the Lord so I can make that final decision and know I’m making the right decision.”

So far, Fanetta’s been traveling down the right path and the best is yet to come!

Funding provided by:

Hamico Foundation

City of Chattanooga

Department 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

DOW Chemicals

The Embroiderers’ Guild of America, Chattanooga Chapter

The HART Gallery

Square D

State Farm Insurance -Hamilton Co. Agents

St. Francis of Assisi Episcopal Church

Two Men and a Truck

Valspar Paint

Whirlpool Corporation

Yale Locks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fanetta was also fascinated to see longtime Habitat               volunteer Diane Barnes lead her wall-raising effort. Diane and her husband, Don, have actually led thousands of volunteers in building walls for all of the Affiliate’s homes for some 20-plus years. Fanetta said at one point during her wall raising, someone suggested Diane had been a little “off” on one of her measurements. “Diane said, ‘Absolutely not!,’ ’’ Fanetta chuckled. “To me, it just looked like

 

 

Ashley – Women Build House – Completed

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When Ashley first applied for Habitat’s homeownership program, she and her children, LonDeon & Cherish, were living in a cramped, two-bedroom duplex where the landlord was painstakingly slow in making much-needed repairs. In fact, Ashley and her boyfriend, Deon, had to tackle projects like painting, pressure-washing and removing a fallen tree themselves. “It was bad,” she said. “It was just time for me to do something better.”

Ashley and her children have since moved from this place. And after renting all of her life, she’s truly grateful for the opportunity to become a proud homeowner.

“This is one of the best things to ever happen to me in my life! This, and my kids,” she said. “I’m just happy. The kids are happy, We’re all happy!”

Ashley and Deon have been a couple since their early teens. She said Deon’s been a huge support during her Habitat experience – often helping her earn her required 350 “sweat equity” hours. “He wouldn’t let me give up, she said.

Giving up is something that Ashley contemplated along her journey toward homeownership. At one point, she was faced with some old financial obligations that seemed like they would derail her chances of buying her first home. But, she persevered, worked with Habitat’s mortgage administrator and was able to face those challenges head on. “If it hadn’t been for Habitat, she wouldn’t have gotten it situated so fast,” Deon chimed in.

Ashley added that she’s learned a lot of valuable lessons through Habitat’s homeowner education curriculum. Twenty different classes are taught by volunteers on topics like budgeting,  maintaining a clean/healthy house, understanding credit reports and estate planning. “I didn’t start out knowing a lot about becoming a homeowner,” Ashley confessed. “So, I looked forward to coming to the classes to learn (how to care) for our home. I especially liked learning how to make cleaning products that are safe for kids. ”

Ashley even overcame her fear of ladders while helping to paint another Partner Family’s house. “I went all the way up there!” she said.  Ashley’s expected to move into her Habitat home this summer. Her house is considered a “Women Build” project because it is being largely funded and constructed by women. “When I first applied, I didn’t think I was going to be approved. I had already tried Section 8 and was denied twice,” Ashley said. But with lots of encouragement and a fighting spirit, she never gave up. “Habitat showed us there are still good people in the world,” Deon said, with Ashley nodding in agreement. The two are also planning their wedding, which they hope will happen in 2018. “Right now, I’m just looking forward to having more space and being able to sit on my front porch without being scared and jumpy. Just being able to sit on my front porch and watch the kids play.” What a wonderful blessing!

 

2017 Women Build House

Funding provided by:

Better Homes and Gardens Realty Signature Brokers

City of Chattanooga

Department of Economic and Community Development

Andy Berke. Mayor

Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga

 

Additional funding, support, Services or Materials provided by:

Chattanooga Area Volunteers

Daughters of the American Revolution, Chief John Ross Chapter

DOW Chemicals

The Embroiderers’ Guild of America, Chattanooga Chapter

The HART Gallery

Square D

State Farm Insurance -Hamilton Co. Agents

St. Francis of Assisi Episcopal Church

Two Men and a Truck

Valspar Paint

Whirlpool Corporation

Yale Locks

 

 

 

Latoya – Publix – Completed

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The year 2017 is bound to be a special one for LaToya. The single mother of two sons and a daughter is looking forward to becoming the first person in her immediate family to experience homeownership. She’s also looking forward to earning her GED this year. “If I can get this house and walk across that stage (to graduate), this will be a very blessed year for me,” she said.

Describing herself as a very independent woman, LaToya said she does whatever it takes to see that the needs of her children- Abram, LaTaivus and Jade – are always met. She first became a mother at age 18, which is also when she moved out of her parents’ house. She settled into an apartment at a local public housing development. After the birth of her second son, she moved back in with her folks for awhile but eventually ventured out on her own again. LaToya was later accepted into the federally funded  Section 8 rental housing program. Through Section 8, she has mainly lived in rental homes in the East Lake area that have not always been well-maintained. LaToya said her current house is poorly insulated, and she’s seen her share of sky-high electric bills. So, she’s excited about purchasing an energy-efficient house that will allow her to keep more money in her pockets. Her Habitat home is being sponsored by Publix Super Markets Charities, a first for the local grocery chain.

I’m also looking forward to the kids having their own rooms, and not having to worry about my rent going up and down,” she said, as rent for Section 8  clients can fluctuate based on changes in income and other factors. LaToya, who has worked at Kenco Logistics for about a decade, heard about Habitat from a persistent co-worker whose sister had  purchased a home. “She pushed me for almost five years to apply,” she laughed. “It was just going in one ear and out the other.” But LaToya said she’s glad she decided to give Habitat a try. “I’ve enjoyed experiencing new things and getting to know new people,” she said – especially the volunteers. “People you don’t even know, from different walks of life, giving their time. They don’t have to do that, but they do.” And, it’s largely because of the generosity of others that this homeownership ministry continues to thrive!

Funding Provided By:

Publix Super Markets Charities

 

Additional funding, support, Services or Materials provided by:

Chattanooga Area Volunteers

Daughters of the American Revolution, Chief John Ross Chapter

DOW Chemicals

The Embroiderers’ Guild of America, Chattanooga Chapter

The HART Gallery

Square D

State Farm Insurance -Hamilton Co. Agents

St. Francis of Assisi Episcopal Church

Two Men and a Truck

Valspar Paint

Whirlpool Corporation

Yale Locks

 

 

 

 

Deborah – City of Chattanooga & Johnson Family Foundation – Completed

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Deborah can recall paying $250 for an electric bill while living in a drafty, poorly insulated apartment. And in recent years, shelling out $750-plus for rent has pretty much been the norm. So when her McKee Foods co-worker and Habitat homeowner, Angela, told her about the program, she considered it a golden opportunity to drastically cut her living expenses and become a homeowner at the same time. “My rent has always been very high,” she explained. “And when you rent, it’s like you’re giving money away to someone else. I just wanted to own my own home again.”

A single mother to Avery, Ariel and Ayanna, Deborah is no stranger to homeownership. She and her five siblings grew up in Newburn, Ala., where her mother, a widower, lived in a home owned by her in-laws. As a young adult, she rented for several years but also briefly owned a house with her ex-husband. She knows the sense of pride, security and freedom homeownership brings. Yet after her divorce, Deborah and her children returned to that vicious cycle of renting. But, thanks to Habitat, those days are coming to an end. And Deborah said she’s looking forward to easing her financial load once she closes on her new house in spring 2017.

When asked what else she’s looking forward to about purchasing a home, Deborah said, “I can go on and on about that! I like knowing that this (house) will eventually be mine. I like having somewhere for my siblings and other  family members to come and get together. And, it’s something I can leave to my kids.” Now that she’s a grandmother to a toddler, she’s also excited about having a backyard where her grandson can play.  These days, Deborah is thinking more and more about the future. As she approaches her 20th anniversary at McKee in a few years, she said she’d like to explore other career paths. “I don’t know. I just want to try something different. I might even become a massage therapist!” For this determined, hard-working mother, the sky’s the limit!

The sky’s the limit for Deborah, and the best is yet to come!

Funding Provided By:

City of Chattanooga, Office of Economic and Community Development,

Andy Berke, Mayor

Habitat for Humanity of Tennessee

George R. Johnson Family Foundation

Additional funding, support, Services or Materials provided by:

Chattanooga Area Volunteers

Daughters of the American Revolution, Chief John Ross Chapter

DOW Chemicals

The Embroiderers’ Guild of America, Chattanooga Chapter

The HART Gallery

Square D

State Farm Insurance -Hamilton Co. Agents

St. Francis of Assisi Episcopal Church

Two Men and a Truck

Valspar Paint

Whirlpool Corporation

Yale Locks