Sometimes our pain can give us purpose. Just ask LaToya. In 2011, she started a new job and also a new lease on life as a wife! She met her husband through a relative after having been single for quite a while. She wasn’t sure if she’d ever find love, but then it happened. She became a bride. She also became pregnant. And when she was seven months along with her second son, Terrance, something life-changing happened. Her husband went to prison.
“He got out when Terrance was three. He was killed seven months later on Terrance’s fourth birthday,” she said. “But within those seven months, they bonded. He knows his dad. He remembers his dad, and I don’t think he’ll ever forget him.”
While LaToya has experienced the unimaginable pain of having a loved one die in such a horrific way, she has also found her purpose: to become a homeowner. She is determined to provide the best life possible for Terrance and her oldest son, JaTorrey.
LaToya grew up in a loving home with her mother, twin sister and two younger brothers. The family lived in various rental properties in Alton Park. She and her twin regularly visited their father on the weekends. They remain a close-knit family today. Yet, there is one goal none of those closest to LaToya has ever achieved. “No one in my immediate family is a homeowner. I wanted to change that,” she said.
Another Habitat Partner named Sherri encouraged her to apply for the program. LaToya said her most rewarding experience thus far has been the various resources and relationships she’s discovered – including meeting her Habitat “Buddy,” Jennifer Whitaker. Jennifer serves on Habitat’s Board of Directors, and is a member of the Family Support Committee. This Committee has a “Buddy” system where Committee members are paired with Partner Families as another layer of support as they navigate their way toward homeownership. Jennifer also experienced the sudden passing of a loved one, and referred LaToya to an agency where her family could receive grief counseling. “Without her, I would have never gone that route,” she said. “I really appreciate the program for having me come in contact with her.”
Both of LaToya’s sons are thriving. JaTorrey is an Honor Roll student, member of the Student Council and plays several sports. He even portrayed President Barack Obama in his school’s Black History program. Terrance is finding his way as well. He is in preschool now, and LaToya thinks he will soon follow in his big brother’s footsteps when it comes to athletics. The entire family is excited about moving into their new Habitat home before the end of 2016. Their house will be located on the up-and-coming Southside – not too far from the community where LaToya has lived most of her life.
“It’s something I can call my own,” she said of her future home. “I won’t have to share a foundation or a wall with a neighbor. Me and my kids will be able to have our own space. That’s what I’m looking forward to!”
Funding Provided By:
City of Chattanooga, Office of Economic and Community Development,
Andy Berke, Mayor
Habitat for Humanity of Tennessee
Tennessee Housing Development Agency