Bienvenido and Lydia Cardona were looking for a small change. They found a new life.
The Cardonas were living in a housing project, in an old and cramped apartment where three of their four children had to squeeze into a single bedroom. So they went out looking for a house.
That house search was more successful than they ever dreamed. When they set out, in 1990, they were just looking for a place to rent - but what they found was Habitat, and now, nearly 25 years later, they live in a house that is all their own and completely paid off.
The realtor showing them rental properties suggested they look into Habitat. They did, and they applied. And then they waited.
At first the Cardonas were told only five applicants could be accepted that year, and they were the sixth. So they kept waiting. Then, to their stunned delight, they were told they were accepted, but funds and volunteers still needed to be identified. So they kept waiting. They drove by the site where their house would be constructed, again and again, dreaming about what it would look like, what it would be like to live there.
Finally, in 1994 - four years after they applied - they moved into their Habitat house in southeast Grand Rapids. "It was like a new life," said Bienvenido. "Everything was new," his daughter added. "It was so big to us. There was so much space. We all were so happy."
Now the family is even happier. They're one of the first Habitat Kent families to complete their mortgage, and they recently celebrated in Habitat Kent's first-ever mortgage-burning ceremony. "We're grateful to God," said Bienvenido. "Our house is completely ours now!"