Turning a House into a Home: Linda’s Story

Linda first applied for a Habitat Kent house in December 2019. She was approved but had to wait for a home to become available. She was finally offered and accepted her home in October 2021. During that time, and throughout the fourteen-month period in the homebuyer program, Linda and her sister, Willie Mae, lived in a small apartment paying high rent.

Linda has loved her time with Habitat Kent and makes a point to attend every event that she can. She has especially enjoyed her time working on construction sites. She said that working with the construction staff and volunteers gave her a chance to meet people from all different walks of life that she wouldn’t have met otherwise. Everything about Habitat Kent has been a rewarding experience for Linda, but she says that painting and doing the finishing touches on her house has been her favorite part. There’s something to be said about making a house look like a home.

In December Linda celebrated her home dedication on a cold and blowy winter day. But inside was all warmth and bright smiles as staff and volunteers gathered with Linda.

Linda was able to move in just after Christmas. She can’t wait to turn her new house into a home where she can relax and enjoy time with family and friends. She’s also looking forward to getting to know her new neighbors and exploring her community.

But most of all Linda is looking forward to this time next year when she can have everyone over for a big holiday meal!

“A Safe Place to Call Our Own”

Tory’s relationship with Habitat for Humanity began very early on in her life. Riding on the bus to and from school, she would see the signs outside of Habitat Kent build sites and whisper to herself “I want one of those!” Tory’s dreams are now being realized as her new home stands in the very same neighborhood she grew up in.

“I am looking forward to creating a space for my family to be whole in; a safe place, a place we can call our own.”

This home will support Tory’s family in many ways and open doors to new opportunities for her children. Most notably, each child will have their own room, and the family will be able to take pride in owning and maintaining their home.

Before she partnered with Habitat Kent to build her new home, Tory and her family were living in a small 2-bedroom apartment that did not suit their needs. They battled through some setbacks at the end of their sweat equity hours – but Tory found strength through the support of other Habitat homeowners and staff. Of her accomplishment, she says, “I like to think I am breaking the cycle and showing my kids to never give up.”

Work with a Purpose : Celebrating Bill and his 21 Years of Service!

Today we give a big shout-out celebrating Bill Moerdyk, currently the longest-serving member on Habitat Kent’s team. Throughout his 21 years of service, he has been led by a heart for the mission and for the homeowners of the houses he has helped build.

After serving as missionaries in Nigeria for ten years, Bill and his family cultivated a strong sense of what it means to make an impact at the community level by engaging in mission-centered work. While talent and experience bring value to the table, Bill believes one of the most important aspects of building a Habitat home is to reflect an understanding of the mission and of the families we walk alongside on their homeownership journeys.

Having served Habitat Kent in various roles since he began his career here in 2001, Bill confidently states that he is most effective in his current role as Senior Site Supervisor. To date, Bill has built about 370 Habitat Kent homes. He loves being on the job sites, instructing volunteers, teaching new skills, and connecting with the families who will one day live in the homes being built. One of his joys is empowering people to complete tasks they previously did not feel equipped to do.

Bill’s legacy with Habitat Kent spans statewide. He is the founder behind the annual Construction Roundtable, a gathering of construction employees from all Habitat affiliates in Michigan with the goal of advancing building strategies and learning what’s new on the market. This Construction Roundtable was picked up by Habitat Michigan and is now known as the ‘Homes Summit.’ He also previously led Habitat Kent’s ‘Brush of Kindness’, a three-day project where Habitat Kent partnered with 250 Americorp volunteers to improve 14 homes on one street.

Bill says of the work we do, “we are a witness not only to the families we serve, but to each other and to the neighborhoods we work in.” 

We are so grateful for Bill, and for the countless lives he has touched in his many years of service to Habitat Kent and our community. 

19 households become homeowners with your help: annual impact report 2022

“The truth is, there are no words to fully express our gratitude.” 

Those are the words of Bilsan, the 2021 Habitat Kent Homeowner of the Year.  Those words are tribute to the hard work our volunteers put in, the generosity of our donors, and the commitment of our community.

Hear more from Bilsan and other Habitat Homeowners and learn about our first all-electric house, Women of Habitat Kent, neighborhood engagement activities, and other big strides we made over the past fiscal year with your support!

Read more here.

Quanette’s Homeownership Journey

Quanette’s journey to Habitat Kent began when she was informed that her apartment was being sold and that she would have to move out. With Grand Rapids area rents so high and rising, she soon realized it would be a challenge to find a place that gave her the space she needed at a price she could afford.

Fortunately, her parents suggested she and the kids stay with them while she prepared herself for more permanent housing. When she returned to house hunting, she found that the opportunities were the same: no adequately sized housing was available in her price range.

That’s when Quanette remembered Habitat Kent. A close friend had a Habitat house and had told Quanette to check out the program.

Quanette entered our program with a lot of energy. So much in fact, that she completed her sweat equity before her house was even under construction.

“When my own house started, I couldn’t stay away. I wanted the pride of being able to say, ‘I helped build my own house. I can now look at it and I know I helped build this wall. I helped with painting and siding and the front steps.’”

Quanette worked so much extra time, that she gifted some of her extra sweat equity to other single moms in the program. “As a single mom, I know how hard it can be, so I wanted to give back to other single moms. Volunteers came out and helped me, so I wanted to help others as I had been helped.

Seeing the volunteers on my house put a spark in me. You have all these people coming out and they are happy to be there. It really touched me. There are a lot of good people in the world. People who are still willing to help other people.

This house has brought my family together. It will make us closer. We are so looking forward to the holidays now. We can’t wait to host. I can also see the joy and pride that my children have in their house.”

Congratulations, Quanette, and thank you to everyone who helped her on her journey to homeownership!

Celebrating Home with Nelson and Rosa

Homes are where families are nurtured, memories are created, and dreams are brought to life. Homes give us the space and security to work and plan for a better tomorrow. Last week we were able to celebrate this milestone with Nelson and Rosa’s family during their Habitat home dedication.

Helping their children to have a better future is why Nelson and Rosa sought out Habitat and put in the hard work to make this house their family’s home.

“Our family is getting older and growing and we need more space,” says Nelson. “Even having enough room at the table for our children to do school work is difficult. And trying to do that in Covid was very hard.”

Completing the Habitat journey wasn’t easy either. It meant working night shifts and then going directly to a Habitat jobsite. But even during that effort the family enjoyed the process. “The best part of the experience was working with families from everywhere – all over the world. Even if we didn’t speak each other’s languages and only communicated through gestures, we worked together and helped each other.”

Their new home will provide the space for this family to continue their journey and nurture their dreams. For the kids, who plan to enroll in Southwestern High School at Plaza Roosevelt, it means their school will be very close. Almost a decade ago we purchased the property where the school sits and the community shared with us their own dream of having a school there. To have a Habitat family move into this neighborhood and enjoy the benefits of that project is our dream come true.

Congratulations, Nelson and Rosa and family!