Habitat home is helping Bill rebuild after stroke

Habitat home dedications are always emotional events. It’s not uncommon for homeowners to find themselves at a loss for words when they stand at the podium to thank those that made their home possible.

But for our newest homeowner Bill, finding the right words is a daily struggle.

Five years ago, Bill suffered a major stroke. He actually “died” for two minutes on the way to the hospital, before he was revived by ER doctors. The stroke left him unable walk, talk or drive, and he spent three months in the hospital rehabbing. It also left him in financial ruin.

Slowly, Bill’s words came back. First in Italian—his native tongue—then in Spanish, which he learned at age 5, when his family moved from Venice to Mexico. The last words to come back to Bill were in English—the language his four children all speak.

English continues to be challenging for Bill. He still has some speech impairment from the physical damage the stroke inflicted. The stroke also affected the language center of his brain, so he finds himself struggling to find the right words. His young son Eros tends to readily step in and prompt him with the right word.

But if you take the time to listen to Bill—to wait for him to find those elusive words—you will find he has a lot to say. He will tell you that for everything his stroke took away from him, it gave him something back.

It took away a lucrative, high-powered executive career, but gave him a slower way of life, with more focus on the people he cares about.

It took away a focus on money and material things, but gave him a focus on service and gratitude.

It took away the four large homes he once owned, but gave him his Habitat house—a home that Bill calls his “favorite.” Bill knows every inch of this home, because he helped build it with his own hands, and that makes it special.

Before the build, he and Eros carefully selected all the options for this house—they picked dark wood finishes because they want to create the feel of a cabin. They’ve already hand-painted furniture to make the look complete.

And now, Bill and Eros can finally move into their dream home—their own little “cabin”—thanks to Bill’s hard work and the dedication and support of our many volunteers and donors.

Lameikia’s Habitat home is her “spring”–a new beginning


Lameikia and her family are escaping overcrowded conditions with their new Habitat home, which they built in partnership with Our Towns Habitat for Humanity and Lowe’s.

She has been sharing her late grandmother’s three-bedroom home with five other adults. Now, she and her daughter, Hazel, a senior at Hough High, and her son C.J. will each have their own bedroom in their new Habitat home.

Lameikia’s home is the first Habitat house completed as part of the Charlotte Impact Project, a joint initiative of Lowe’s, Our Towns Habitat and Habitat Charlotte. Last November, Lowe’s announced a pledge of $1 million to complete construction of 10 new homes and 10 critical repair projects, along with three Women Build events and eight home preservation projects.

Lameikia’s path has never been an easy one. The oldest of five, she faced a difficult home life as a child, and eventually was raised by her grandparents. She took on the role of “mom” for her siblings, and then became a mom to her first child, Kita, before she graduated high school.

She moved out on her own at 19, then later ended up in an unhealthy marriage. Her husband never worked, so they struggled financially.

As Lameikia frames it, she jumped directly from childhood into the “real world.” She works as the front desk manager at Days Inn, where she has been for 11 years. Now, she hopes having stable, affordable housing will allow her to focus on going back to school and getting a degree.

“Habitat is not just affordable housing, but a new beginning,” says future homeowner Lameikia. “I feel like my new house is my spring—it’s a re-birth, and it is where I am meant to be.”

To qualify for Our Towns Habitat’s homeownership program, Brice had to meet income requirements, commit to paying an affordable mortgage and serve 400 “sweat equity” hours. She earned her sweat equity hours by completing homeowner education classes, volunteering in the Habitat ReStore, helping build other Habitat homes, and, finally, working on this house behind us.

Lameikia enjoyed this volunteer service, as she got to meet many different people and see the impact of helping her soon-to-be new neighbors have affordable housing. But when she was finally able to work on her own home, everything was different.

Since her children are older, they were also able to help with the home’s construction. C.J. remembers the pride he felt when he conquered his fears to work on the roof. Hazel says helping build her own home has given her a sense of accomplishment.

“It was exciting working on everybody else’s home, but the feeling of working on your own home—watching them pour the foundation and seeing it go from the ground up—it’s special,” Brice said

Na’stassia looking forward to warming up in new home

It’s often the little things that we take most for granted. During this recent cold snap, most of us didn’t give much thought to bumping the thermostat up a degree or two if we were feeling chilled.

For our new homeowner Na’stassia, controlling the temperature of her house is a luxury that she is looking forward to. Na’stasssia has been living in a public housing with her son, Akayo, and daughter, Lyric. The building manager controls the heat and air for the entire complex, and it always runs cold, especially with drafty windows. Since Na’stassia is anemic, the cold is hard for her to tolerate.

In this new home, not only can Na’stassia control the heat, she won’t have to worry about sky-high utility bills. This home she helped build is energy efficient—no more drafty windows!

In their current neighborhood, Na’stassia and her children also have safety concerns, with high crime levels nearby. Here, Akayo and Lyric are looking forward to playing outside in a safe neighborhood with lots of other children.

Na’stassia’s journey to build a home for her family hasn’t been easy. Once construction started on her home, she had to switch to working 12-hour shifts at her Certified Nursing Assistant job with Heritage Place Assisted Living, so she could have Saturdays free to build. Those Saturday builds also meant missing a lot of Akayo and Lyric’s sporting events. Akayo plays football, basketball and baseball, while Lyric plays volleyball, basketball and softball.

Na’stassia says those temporary sacrifices will be worth it to improve her family’s situation.

“It’s like a weight off my shoulders,” she said.

Her favorite part of the construction process was framing day, when she got to watch the wall of her home be built and raised. She tells us she also enjoyed volunteering on other Habitat homes.

“It’s been great to help other people and celebrate with other homeowners,” she said.

Disability could not prevent Larry from building his own home


When Larry first came to Our Towns Habitat, the idea of owning his own home was not even a possibility for him. When he first met with our Homeowner Services team, Larry was actually looking for help with needed repairs to the mobile home where he and his four children lived.

Since Larry was renting the mobile home, the property did not qualify for our repair program. But, after reviewing his situation, we realized Larry was a good fit for our homeownership program.

Larry says he had never even considered buying his own home before—he was on a fixed disability income and did not have enough for a down payment. When he realized it was a possibility, he knew it was something he was willing to work for, to have something better for his kids.

“I need a home for my kids to grow up in and be able to become their own people,” Larry told us. “Seeing how happy my kids are to have their own home makes it all worth it.”

For Larry, earning the required 400 sweat equity hours to buy this home was particularly challenging. A head-on collision in 1994 left him with a lifetime of pain. Larry broke his femur and 10 bones in his foot in the accident. He was unable to return to his job at Cannon Mills, where he’d worked since age 16.

After going through vocational rehab and earning a degree in business management and accounting from Mitchell Community College, Larry returned to work at a bank for eight years. But cartilage damage in his foot and ankle continued to plaque him with chronic pain, and eventually he went on permanent disability.

Even with tasks adapted to Larry’s physical abilities, being on the construction site to work on his home wasn’t easy.

“Some days I dreaded going out there,” he admits. “But I wasn’t going to let anything stop me. The Lord got the ball rolling for me, so I’m going to finish it.”

Larry has documented his home’s construction in photos—428 of them—watching it go from an empty lot, to seeing the foundation poured and the walls go up, until this moment today, when he finally turn the key and open the door to his new home. We hope there will be many more photos from his recent home dedication to add to the collection—and maybe a few will even end up framed and hanging on the walls inside!

Habitat Home Offers Fresh Start for Statesville Family

Rafael and Elvira's new home

Rafael invites dedication guests into his new home.

The new Habitat home Rafael and Elvira dedicated today means many things–for the family, it means they can escape overcrowding in a two-bedroom apartment. For Rafael, it means he will have something to leave to his children. And for Graciela, it means more independence.

The small apartment where the family has lived the last 10 years makes it hard for Graciela to get around. The doorways were too narrow for her to get from room to room without assistance. She also could not use her motorized wheelchair, because the wheels got caught on the carpet. And, the entry to the home had stairs with an unsteady portable wheelchair ramp providing many obstacles for Graciela to leave or enter her own home.

With the new Habitat home they helped build, all of that has changed.

“Your support, sacrifice and commitment has helped lead this family to a new chapter in their lives,” Interim Executive Director Denise Copeland told volunteers and donors gathered for the dedication. “Today, this family begins a fresh start that will bring them safety, security and unity.”

Rafael and Elvira came to the United States from Mexico 14 years ago, when Graciela was very young, knowing they would find better healthcare for her, and better economic opportunity. Rafael has faithfully worked the same job at Carris Reels here in Statesville for all of those 14 years—they haven’t kicked him out yet, he jokes.

Rafael and Elvira have worked hard to see their dream of homeownership come true, attending homeowner classes, helping build homes for their neighbors, and finally, hammering the nails that would build their own home. And, as Elvira learned, it takes some pretty long nails to build a house!

Elvira would tell you that her favorite construction task was, well, everything, because she knew she was building something that would be theirs. For Rafael, watching the walls go up on framing day was extra special, because he could see the house taking shape.

“Each and every one here has somehow, some way, contributed to our house and allowing us to become homeowners, so I thank you all,” Rafael told dedication guests. “We’re so happy to fulfill our dream of homeownership after 14 years of renting.”

Throughout the building process, the excitement of the couple’s children has been palpable. Marco, 10, and Rafael Jr., 5, would ask constantly to go by the house and check on its progress. Once doors were installed and the house was locked up on non-work days, the kids would peer through the window to catch a glimpse of their future home. Now, they no longer have to peer through the windows, but can turn the key and enter their new home.

Habitat Experience Inspires Alex to Give Back

When Alex was growing up, she spent her whole childhood in the same house. From that experience, she knew the importance of stability, and she wanted to provide that same sense of stability to her daughter Calynn,7, and son Carsyn, 5.

She also knew she was wasting her money on rent, and dreamed of one day owning a home. But until her friend Sierra, who owns a Habitat home across the street, encouraged her to attend an information session at Our Towns Habitat, that dream seemed very distant.

Today, as we dedicate the new home she helped build, that dream is not distant—it’s here.

There are a lot of things about this new home that excite Alex—being able to paint the walls however she likes, decorate however she likes, and just having something she can call her own.

But she is most excited about watching her children grow up here, in a quiet, safe neighborhood, where they can take evening walks together.

Alex’s experience partnering with Our Towns Habitat, working alongside volunteers, has inspired her to continue volunteering with Our Towns. She hopes to spend many Saturdays helping build homes for her new neighbors to come in Burke Circle.

Her big dream, though, is to travel on one of our Global Village programs to Guatemala, and help build affordable housing solutions there.

“I enjoyed seeing how people, who could be doing anything with their Saturday, would come out and help,” Alex told us. “I know there are still good people out here who want to help.”

At Our Towns Habitat, we are also amazed every day as we see how people, working together to share God’s love, can build homes, communities and hope.

Determination Led Fabiola to Become Homeowner

Fabiola is not the kind of person who lets obstacles stand in the way of achieving her goals.

She was still in high school when she had her first child, and had to quit school so she could work and support her baby. But she knew need a high school diploma for better job opportunities, so two years ago, Fabiola earned her GED–while working two jobs, as a single mom of three boys.

But Fabiola also knew need to do more to build a better future for her boys. She couldn’t keep paying rent that was too high for an apartment that was too small. So she decided to knock that obstacle out of the way, too.

Knowing nothing about Habitat for Humanity as an organization, she took a chance and stopped in our office on her way home from work. She had noticed our street sign advertising home ownership programs. She acted on faith and walked through the front door for information.

Once Fabiola qualified for our homeownership program, there were more obstacles to overcome. Still working two jobs, and expecting her fourth child, Fabiola worked hard to earn her sweat equity hours. She earned many of those hours assisting in our office, and became a familiar face to many of us.

Her oldest son, Christopher, now 15, helped out by watching the younger boys—Jose, 10, Diego, 8, and baby Luis.

When work began on her new home, Fabiola faced the obstacles of home construction with the same resolve she used to get her GED. Fabiola says that roofing—a task many people are afraid to tackle—was her favorite part of building her house.

“At first I was kind of scared, but then I got used to it and it was so much fun,” she told us. “It made me feel like I was really doing something to build my house.”

Fabiola’s determination comes from a desire to show her boys they can accomplish anything they set their mind to.

Fabiola has done just that, as she celebrates buying her first home. She will move her four boys from a small two-bedroom apartment to this beautiful new, four-bedroom home. We celebrate this milestone thanks to Fabiola’s commitment to partner with Habitat, and thanks to the commitment of volunteers and donors who also partnered with Habitat to ensure everyone can have a decent, affordable place to live.




Max and Jessica’s Home Will Be Full of Love


There is no doubt that Max and Jessica’s Habitat house will be full of love and laughter. We were blessed to have partnered with this couple to build a new home for their SIX children.

Max and Jessica both come from large families, and love parenting their own large crew—Nathaniel, 16, Maximiano, 13, Yahaira, 11, twins Gabriel and Gabriela, 9, and Jeremiah, 7. They work hard to care for their beautiful family—Max as a mechanic and Jessica as a certified nursing assistant.

We all know the challenges of finding affordable housing for working class families. For large families like Max and Jessica’s, the challenge is even greater—rent is higher and landlords can be discriminatory. The largest home they’ve even been able to afford had three bedrooms, which left all four boys sharing one room. Often, they’ve been turned away by landlords simply because of their family size, told their children would “destroy” the home.

In addition to high rent, the family has dealt with landlords who refused to make repairs—including a broken water line that led to a $1,500 water bill and the development of black mold.

Max and Jessica are both originally from Chicago, growing up in the neighborhood of Little Village, which they loved. But as much as they loved the neighborhood they called home, they couldn’t find work to support their family. Eventually, they moved to North Carolina so Max could take a job in Huntersville as a mechanic.

Max and Jessica love being here and feel much safer than they did in Chicago. But even with better jobs here, decent, affordable housing was still out of reach—until a co-worker talked to Jessica about Habitat. Jessica tells us when they received the call from Our Towns Habitat letting them know they had been accepted into our program, “it was like a weight was lifted from our shoulders….we had hope.”

But even after getting accepted, the family had a long road ahead. Because they couldn’t find an affordable place with a short-term lease while they built their home—alongside our partners at Davidson United Methodist Church—the family has been separated. Jessica and the children are staying with one friend, while Max stays with another. With their work schedules, many nights the only way Max gets to see the kids is through video chat on their phones.

On top of that, Max and Jessica have worked hard to earn their 400 sweat equity hours—which is not an easy feat for parents juggling full-time jobs and caring for six children.

But in their new Habitat home, Max and Jessica begin a new leg of their journey. They have worked hard, with the help of many volunteers and donors, to build a more stable future for their beautiful family. They now know that the search for an affordable place to live will no longer be a constant worry, and they can focus on what’s truly important—raising their children to be happy, strong and healthy. Thank you all for helping Max and Jessica build strength, stability and self-reliance through affordable housing.

Nicky Built Her Own Home, So Her Family Can Build Memories

“Home” means so many things. It’s where we build our lives and where we build memories.

With the dedication of their new Habitat home, Nicky and her two sons can begin building new lives in an affordable home that Nicky helped build with her own hands. Micah, 8, already has big plans for this house—he can’t wait to have friends over for sleepovers and play hide and seek. His older brother Jeremiah, 12, can have a basketball hoop for the first time.
Mom Nicky sees how significant these “little things” are to her sons, and knows these are the memories they will look back on and treasure. Being able to give her boys a place of their own is something she has prayed for, and she says that “without God, I don’t think this would be possible.”

The family will be moving out of a cramped two-bedroom townhouse with maintenance and health concerns. The room the boys now share is caving in, and mold in the bathroom aggravates their allergies. Six years ago, Nicky found herself homeless due to domestic violence, and had to move in with her mom and stepdad.

“This marks a brand new beginning us, and gives us a house to call our own, in a nice, safe neighborhood,” Nicky said.

Before partnering with Habitat, Nicky had never tackled anything like the work required to build her own home. But she is dedicated and goal-driven, so she dove in to the work and learned many new skills along the way. She loved seeing the walls go up on framing day, and says that the labor she put in to building her home makes her appreciate it all the more.

Now, she is looking forward to making the home her own—having the freedom to paint her walls and hang pictures and mirrors. Jeremiah plans to decorate his room in a Dallas Cowboys theme, and Micah is deciding which room Disney, the family’s poodle mix, will claim. And we are all looking forward to seeing how the family—including Disney—will grow and thrive in their new Habitat home.

Brothers Came Together to Help Build a Home for Their Mom, Sister

Nearly 10 years ago, Gregoria and her son David travelled to North Carolina from their home in Seattle to visit family. They felt welcomed and decided to move here, looking for a new start.

But since then, they have struggled to find a decent, affordable place to live. They have moved three times since, and the rentals they could afford were too small, poorly maintained and sometimes in unsafe neighborhoods.
Gregoria learned about Our Towns Habitat’s homeownership program through our ReStores, where she shopped to save money on things the family needed for the household. The family applied with Habitat after the mobile home they rented had a significant fire in the kitchen, forcing yet another move.

The mobile home was older and had not been kept up; the fire sparked because of faulty wiring. The family found another rental—a cramped two-bedroom—but they knew it was time to find a better answer.

That answer was to partner with Habitat to build their own affordable home. And it took the whole family coming together to make it happen. Gregoria is disabled and on limited income, so her son David is buying the home with her, and they will own it together.

David and his older brother, John, who moved to North Carolina a few years after Gregoria and David, have together worked hard to earn most of the “sweat equity” hours the family needed, so that Gregoria could care for their younger sister, Persia. At age 6, Persia is still affectionately referred to as the “baby” of the family.

John recalls helping his father do construction work when he was younger, but said, “to build our own home is really an experience.”

John is a full-time student at Central Piedmont Community College, and is just a few credits away from his business administration degree. David is also a student at CPCC, studying criminal justice while working full-time. They both say that having stable housing will help them focus on their studies, in turn helping them better support their family.

But what the whole family is most excited about as they move into their new home is being able to provide a home for Persia to grow up in—and a yard where she can plant the garden she has always dreamed of.