Welcome Home, Isaac and Elizabeth!

Isaac and Elizabeth recently closed on their Habitat Kent house, becoming first-time homeowners. But they were champions of Habitat Kent well before joining our homeownership program. They first learned about the organization by translating for their friends and community members to help them complete their Habitat homebuyer applications.  

After years of helping their friends, they decided to apply because they wanted a safe and stable home with plenty of space for their children. While their journey to homeownership was long with plenty of ups and downs, they remained steadfast. With their children on their minds, they worked hard to complete their sweat equity hours, required classes, and homebuyer workshops. On the day of their home dedication their joy was evident by the bright smiles on their faces and heartfelt words shared by Isaac about what this home means to their family. 

Isaac and Elizabeth enjoyed working with the staff and many volunteers and thank everyone involved for assisting them in their homeownership journey. They’re eager to host gatherings and holidays and celebrate their kids’ birthdays in their home for many years! 

 

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.”

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!

Jawaan

This is the story of Jawaan and her family.

When Jawaan applied to become a Habitat homeowner, she brought her faith in God, her favorite motto (“Teamwork makes the dream work!”), a lot of energy and hope, and a few wishes. She wished that she and her four children could live in a safe, affordable home, away from unpredictable rent hikes and moves. She wished to continue her employment and to take more college classes, and maybe even to own her own business one day. Jawaan’s sons wished for more space and stability, and her daughter wished for her own bedroom for the first time in her 15 years of life.

Jawaan closed on her own Habitat home just days after her birthday and she says ALL her wishes are coming true! Thank you for partnering with Habitat Kent and families like Jawaan’s to help them pursue their dreams.

Mazarah & Sofia

This is the story of Mazarah and Sofia.

In 2016, they came to Michigan with their three children as refugees after fleeing war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo followed by intense experiences with xenophobia in South Africa.

Bethany Christian Services helped them settle and learn the many things needed to adjust to radically different lives. Now Mazarah is a skilled tile installer, and Sofia works in packaging for a local manufacturing company.

“Now we will own our own house, an American dream house! It’s such a big change, and everything is happy,” says Mazarah. “No more change,” adds Sofia.

Sofia has a friend who is a Habitat homeowner who encouraged them to apply for this program. Mazarah has found that the sweat equity part of the program is “lovely, and happy” and he’s proud of the carpentry and painting work he’s been doing.

Their family was blessed with a fourth child two years ago.  Alamasi, Magie, Deborah, and little Sarah are active, happy kids, and their parents hope that their lives will be “lucky” and “full of learning.”

“Now they can live with peace…and freedom too,” say both proud parents.

“Grand Rapids has lots of love,” says Mazarah. “And love leads the world.” Thank you for being a part of that culture of love and generosity. Together, we are changing lives!

New Beginnings

John was looking for a fresh start and a chance to live the life he always dreamed of. He was in a vulnerable living situation and unexpected health issues made it challenging to find an affordable and healthy place to live. Fortunately, as a U.S. Air Force and Vietnam Veteran, John qualified to build and purchase a home of his own through Habitat Kent’s Veteran Program. And after his first conversation with Habitat Kent, he knew there was hope for a healthy and stable future.

With the help of dedicated volunteers and the mentorship of Habitat Kent staff, John got to work on his 250 required hours of “sweat equity.” He attended homeowner training, financial education courses, and helped build Habitat homes – including rehabbing the house in south east Grand Rapids that he’ll soon call home. But he didn’t stop there.

Throughout the program, John demonstrated his commitment to giving back. He consistently attended veteran-focused events on behalf of Habitat Kent and even earned more sweat equity hours than required so he could donate that time to future veteran homebuyers.

“A good attitude will take you a lot further than you can imagine,” John said.

Now John is looking forward to having a quiet, healthy, and safe home where he can host family and friends, and create new memories. He plans to grow a garden in the backyard to cook his vegetarian meals and is thankful to have access to public transportation, a library, and a market all within walking distance of his home.

John gave up his youth to serve our country during one of the most harrowing periods in its history. Through Habitat Kent’s Veteran Program, John is healing, growing, and building a better future. He believes his best years are yet to come.

“I’m really glad that I’m able to finally finish this journey and hopefully start a better one in the future.”

Thank you for giving back to those who have given so much for all of us. Thank you for giving John a warm welcome home.

Strong Futures

In the past year, Dini and Mansura have been surprised how their house transformed from just a plot of land to the beautiful home it is today. Their home was built in partnership with students from Grand Rapids Community College’s M-TEC Program. Since 2005, GRCC students have helped Habitat Kent build 33 homes. GRCC President Bill Pink attended the home dedication and handed Dini the keys to their new home.

“Our students are thrilled to do this kind of work because it gives them real-world experience and it also gives them that taste of actually seeing how their work brings about such good joy for families,” President Pink said.

“As we do well for others we do well for the whole community.”

Dini and Mansura have been living in a small apartment that seems to get smaller every day. Their son Nuredin (3) and daughter Amira (1) share the same cramped room and the apartment doesn’t provide enough space for them to play.

Dini and Mansura planned to purchase a home for their growing family but they were unable to qualify for a traditional mortgage. They were seeking a permanent housing solution when a family member told them to visit Habitat Kent.

“We had a plan but we didn’t think we’d get this opportunity in this short of a time,” Dini said.

They explained that because of the homeownership education courses Habitat Kent offers, their family is equipped to maintain their home for the future. Now Dini and Mansura have new plans for their future, including finishing the basement, preparing their children for school, and furthering their education to grow in their careers.

“I never imagined this,” Dini said about the Habitat experience, especially relating to sharing cultures with volunteers, donors, and staff members. Dini said he was humbled by the people who have donated their time and money to help someone they’ve never met.

“No matter who they are [Habitat volunteers] are helping everybody regardless of their background.”

Because of you, Dini and Mansura have a healthy, stable, and affordable home where their family can and plan for a bright future.