A Journey to Homeownership

Below, 2015 Habitat homeowner Crystal, shared her thoughts on her homeownership journey from when she was selected into the program all the way to the completion of her required sweat equity. Now Crystal and her children are enjoying their first full year in their beautiful new home.  

Crystal_and_family

July 2014: We were sitting at a Reading Phillies game on a warm July evening, about to enjoy the post-game fireworks. I looked at my phone and noted a voicemail. I checked the voicemail and got the wonderful news that I was accepted into the Habitat Program.

Aug. 30, 2014: I was able to meet all of the families and go through the orientation.

That next week I started to build. I have been building or attending classes/workshops every week in order to get to my 200 hours.

Nov. 1, 2014: I attended the dedications ceremony for the families that got their homes this year (2014) and it was such an amazing feeling.

Nov. 5, 2014:  My children ran home to tell me their grades were up and posted and that they both made honor roll. Both children’s grades were submitted and I was given 7.5 hours for their grades. Both children were very excited to know that they had put in a full day’s work just with their grades.

December 2014: This month posed some challenges with my health but I still continued to push through despite being ill. I was only able to get hours at the Restore due to the weather and my health not being the best, but I was able to get in my hours that way. It was fun working at the store and learning different sides of Habitat.

January 2015: The start of a new year, and the beginning of the year that we will move into our very own home. January started with me completing hours at the Restore. I also was able to pick up additional responsibilities in the store and I really felt part of their team.

February 2015: Still chipping away at my sweat equity hours and kids still working hard on their grades. They were super excited to show me that they both got A’s and 1 B on their second marking period report cards. That excellent work by the children resulted in 9.5 hours of sweat equity time for us. We had a mandatory meeting and learned how we were progressing. I was pleased to learn that I had earned over 100 hours to date and reach my halfway point in the program. I continued with some minor health issues so I remained at the store to earn my sweat equity. I will be looking forward to the nicer weather in hopes to get back to building at the site. I will however, miss the store and working with the great Volunteers, Community Service and regular employees.

March 2015: This was probably my most exciting month because I was seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. It all was beginning to feel very real. I was busy accumulating boxes and preparing to pack my current home and get rid of things I no longer needed. I decided that donating them to the Restore was the best way to do that. It felt great putting those things out and watching them sell all day. It was such a pleasure seeing almost a $6,000 day at the Restore. There was a customer who came up to the register and said does this money really go to helping people. I quickly interjected and let her know just how Habitat helps people and how I personally am benefiting from this excellent program.

I sat at the computer tying in my hours and realized that if I just stay focused and use some vacation days from my job, I will successfully complete my hours in June…just as I had hoped. My children sat down and thanked me because they said they realized just how hard I work. Even being a single mom with team practices almost nightly and games on Saturday’s, I still was able to find time to get my sweat equity hours in. I again told my children, it’s easy when you are able to recognize when a Blessing has been bestowed upon you. You will do nothing to interfere with that Blessing. I was able to also get some good news Health wise. There is nothing to major going on but arthritis from my broken femur and the rod that is still currently in my leg. The pain is intensified in the winter months. I also have several kidney stones but for now they look as if they are content. I will continue to push until I can’t push anymore. My daughter gave me that extra push that I needed just before I went in to the Restore on the last of March. She said Mom soon we will be celebrating the day you complete all your hours. She said I will create a banner that says “Happy Completion Day”. That gave me a smile and a reason to push on.

April 2015: What an amazing month on my journey to homeownership! This month I rejoined the volunteers and staff on the hill. My first day back and it was insulation day. It was great to get back on the hill and join back up with Jack, Jerry and Dan. They are amazing workers and they teach me so much. Even when they think I’m not listening or paying attention, I am because I’m eager to learn how to take care of my home without always having to call someone…especially for simple repairs. Midway through the month, I really started to get the ball rolling. I deposited the last amount into my savings for my down payment, received my certificate of completion from Open Hearth and got a true count of my sweat equity hours. The last Saturday of April was an amazing day. I was able to work alongside some amazing volunteers from Comcast. We were able to beautify the neighborhood, and boy did we put a lot of work in. It was all so pretty afterward. I left with a sense of pride knowing that it would soon be my neighborhood. At the end of the day, it really hit me. I was at the end of the tunnel and I could see the light. I was starting May off with only needing 15 more hours of sweat equity. My journey is almost complete!

May 2015: My last and final month of sweat equity. With only 2 hours completed during the first week of May , I still felt like I was right on track. With me trying to get hours in between baseball games it was a challenge, but I have a plan and so far, that plan is on track. My goal would be to finish by May 22. Oh what a special day that will be…My birthday and My “completion” day!!!

Second week into May and I’m still on track to complete my hours.   With only 9 hours to go. Wow! I’m in the single digits now!! This past Saturday was by far the most strenuous day I have had at Habitat to date. Two ladies and I were ripping up old carpet at the restore to make more floor space. It was a lot of hard work but worth it. I may have been scratched, bruised and sore but I would not change it for the world. At this point it is not only the prize of getting a beautiful home but just knowing how mentally strong I have been to stay focused during this year long journey.

It was a Wednesday afternoon and I received an email from Bobette; an email that reminded me just how much I have achieved with her help. Bobette was more of a motivation than she realized throughout my year plus journey. From the moment I sent an email requesting information for the next orientation session back in 2013, to the most recent email encouraging our group to get our hours, classes and trainings completed, she kept us all encouraged. I don’t know where my family and I would be without her and the entire Habitat for Humanity team.   I owe her and them a lot. I can’t forget the volunteers that I have met during this journey. They have all been awesome. Giving up a day of their time, to help me and my family…it was an honor to build and work alongside them.

Last week of sweat equity hours… and I was able to get a few more hours in than expected, so it looks like May 21 will be the day…only 4 hours remaining.

May 21:  As I sit her covered in paint from head to toe, I can’t help but feel overwhelmed with excitement as I type my final journal entry.

The day had arrived. I woke up early to get up to the site by 8:00am. As the day progressed, I began to feel excited, anxious and to be honest, a bit nervous; nervous because with being a homeowner I would have new responsibilities and concerns. At this moment, I realized just how important it was for me that I paid attention to what Jack, Dan and Jerry were teaching me all along. After the day was done, I just sat down and reflected on my year long journey. Thursday, May 21, 2015…a day I will surely remember for years to come. Despite completing my required hours, I will still return to the build site to help build my home until is completed. It’s just too exciting seeing it all come together. Community Lane, I’ll be home soon!!!

Now, let the packing begin!!!

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Philippians 4:13

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