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.

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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.

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Confidence

Building a Habitat Kent home takes more than timber, cement, and vinyl. It takes a homebuyer willing to believe that they can accomplish more. Therese took on the challenge of building and purchasing a new Habitat Kent home in the Roosevelt Park Neighborhood.

Her hard work will provide a bright future for her three daughters Aline (15), Nina (11), and Helene (5).

She heard about the homeownership program from her friend, Desire, who is a Habitat Kent homebuyer also living in Roosevelt Park. She previously had been renting a cramped apartment with little space for her growing daughters to play. After being unable to qualify for a traditional mortgage, Therese decided to apply to the Habitat Kent homeownership program.

The process was daunting at times for Therese. She had to earn sweat equity hours while working full time, parenting her daughters, and taking classes at Grand Rapids Community College.

Thankfully, Therese had friends to support her, including Frida, who lives across the street from her new home. She said going through the homeownership program pushed her and built her confidence in the skills she learned, including home maintenance and budget management. As the most recent Habitat Kent Women Build, more than 200 women joined Therese in building her new home where she and her daughters can thrive.

“I thank God that I’m done,” Therese said. She now can enjoy the home she built for her children, who will have room to grow and play. Because of you, Therese was able to build a confidence in herself to achieve her dream of homeownership.

“If you feel like you can do something—don’t give up. No matter what people say to you, just go forward.”

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GRPS Students Build Habitat Home

While most students associate the end of the school year with studying for exams, cleaning out lockers, and longing for summer, a group of Grand Rapids Public Schools students were celebrating a project that took the entire school year to complete.

Juniors and seniors at GRPS’ Academy for Design and Construction (ADC) spent the 2017-2018 school year partnering with Habitat for Humanity of Kent County to build a new LEED-certified home. More than 200 GRPS ADC students have partnered with Habitat Kent over the last 12 years, and this is the eleventh house they’ve built.

From framing in the humid days of late September to installing windows in the bitter cold of January, students had to learn how to work together to overcome obstacles with support from Habitat Kent staff and ADC instructors.

“We’re like a family because we built this,” said ADC student, Alex, at the end-of-year celebration inside the family room of the new house.

“It took a lot of hard work and teamwork.”

Students learn valuable hands-on construction skills as well as knowledge of energy-efficient home building techniques and materials. But the most valuable part of the program is that the students help a homebuyer build a safe, stable, and affordable home.

Cassandra, the homebuyer, applied for Habitat’s homeownership program because she had a need for housing, the ability to pay an affordable mortgage, and a willingness to partner with Habitat. She’s been able to meet and watch the students work on her new home this past year.

“I think it’s really important that [the students] learn how to build a house for their [own home] when they grow older and also if they work in the construction trade.”

Cassandra is working hard to wrap up her sweat equity hours, which include construction of her home and other Habitat homes, financial courses, and homeownership training. She hopes to move into her new home by the beginning of the new school year.

Every single task students completed, every single hour they spent on this house is going to make a lasting impact for Cassandra and her family, and even their own future. To close the celebration, Alex perfectly summed up what the program is all about.

“[This house] was built with love.”

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Encouragement

The journey to Habitat homeownership takes encouragement and endurance, which ultimately leads to growth and stability. For Floridalma, her first encouragement came from her brother, who is a Habitat homeowner in Guatemala.

“He said that Habitat can help people obtain a home and that our [living conditions] will change if we pursue it,” Floridalma said.

Floridalma, Alex, and their three children have been renting the upper level of a cramped house that provides little relief from the elements during the cold winters and muggy summers. The children have little space to play. Their desire to apply to Habitat Kent’s homeownership program came out of a vision for a brighter future for their children.

“The lives of people are changed after they have their Habitat house and that is about to happen to us,” Floridalma said.

Once they were accepted into the program, Habitat Kent provided them with encouragement to earn sweat equity hours, take educational courses, and help build their new home—all while balancing family and jobs. Alex worked many hours on the build sites and especially enjoyed learning construction skills from site supervisor Bill.

Because of their hard work and commitment their children, Maria (1), Richard (6), and Renifer (10), will have their own rooms, a healthy home, and most importantly—a safe space to play outside.

The family is planning on getting a blow-up pool for children to play in the backyard during the summer. Come fall, Maria, and Richard will be returning to Harrison Park Elementary, now only a few blocks from their new home. Harrison Park is part of the Challenge Scholars program, which offers a pathway for families to cover the costs of technical or collegiate education after high school.

“It is going to help us [build] something secure for the children’s future,” Floridalma said.

Even if you’ve never met Floridalma or Alex, you are a part of their motivation and encouragement. You are part of their brighter future. When asked what stood out about their Habitat experience, Floridalma said, “everyone in this program is united.”

Thank you for sharing your time, talent, and treasure to help Floridalma and Alex build a strong family and a future filled with hope.

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Milestones

Stability, community, and a strong foundation are realities of life for a majority of West Michigan families. But for Amadou and Housseinatou, these were once only dreams. The Hassanas emigrated from Cameroon four years ago, seeking a chance for a stronger future for their family. They left behind the security of home for an opportunity to provide their two twin boys, Zayeed and Zeeyad, a future with limitless possibilities. Read more

Freedom

Bilsan, Norma, and their three boys Roadny (13), Rudy (10), Rony (9), are in awe of their new home.

“We can live freer,” Bilsen said. Read more

Responsibility

Because of you, Maria and her two children are going to live in a safe, stable, and healthy home in the neighborhood they love.

Maria and her family have been connected to the Roosevelt Park Neighborhood for many years and both children go to school at Caser Chavez Elementary, only a few blocks from their new home.

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A Foundation For Family

Patrice raised her family to love and sacrifice for each other no matter the circumstances. So when she had the opportunity to fulfill her dream of homeownership through Habitat Kent, her family came together with volunteers and donors to build a bright future. Last week, amongst her beautiful and growing family she dedicated her new home.

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