“ForKids” family is part of Habitat for Humanity’s building blitz

Published: June 2, 2008 | 7092nd good news item since 2003

Habitat for Humanity of South Hampton Roads has begun a building blitz. June 2-7, local builders, donors and volunteers will build 16 Habitat for Humanity Homes in the Huntersville neighborhood of Suffolk.

“Thanks to our local builders, 16 local families will realize the dream of homeownership,” said John K. Morgan, III, Executive Director. “We are so grateful these homebuilders are working to make our community a better place.”

One of the homes will belong to a mother and daughter. Jan and Alexis moved into the ForKids Emergency Shelter “Haven House” a few years ago. It was through that program where someone encouraged them to apply for a Habitat for Humanity home.

Now, their dream is coming true.

A butter yellow house with hunter green shutters and a pink “High School Musical” bedroom. That is nine year old Alexis’ dream home. It may not sound like such a reach, but for a ForKids family who has experienced homelessness, just dreaming of a home is everything.

This week Alexis and her mother Jan will be among the 16 families to move into Habitat for Humanity homes in Suffolk’s Huntersville neighborhood. They will be living in a community filled with newcomers. A community filled with children. A community filled with hope. Alexis is excited “My new friends are going to be my neighbors. We’ll have all kinds of fun.”

Three years ago Jan and Alexis were not having fun. They were barely living day to day. They were evicted from a rat infested apartment that was filled with mold and bugs. Jan had escaped an abusive marriage and they had no where to go. The first glimmer of hope came when Jan and Alexis moved into ForKids Emergency Shelter “Haven House”. Like all ForKids programs, “Haven House” offered more than room and board. Therapists, case workers, clinicians, and people who care welcomed Jan and Alexis into the program.

“The first night I lay on the bed and cried. Alexis was already upstairs with the other children having a ball. I looked at our room. There were two bunk bends and a dresser. I knew then I had to make a decision. I can get up and try to do what the program wants me to do and put my faith in God, or I can leave and live out of my car.”

No doubt the sounds of Alexis’ laughter drifting down the stairs helped Jan make that decision. “I knew when I took that first yoga class at Haven House there was hope. It was the first thing I had done for myself in years.” For four months she worked on budgeting, parenting, and all the other tough programs ForKids requires. Jan immediately got a job as a Bus Driver for Norfolk Public Schools. Alexis also dove right in and became part of all the programs ForKids offers.

Following success at Haven House, Jan and Alexis were accepted into ForKids’ transitional housing at “Elizabeth Place”. They’ve lived in their own apartment for two years. “Having my own place meant everything.” Now that space will become a lot larger.

In November of 2006 ForKids staff encouraged Jan to apply for a Habitat for Humanity Home. On the day her divorce was final, Jan found out she and Alexis were among the 50 finalists. Then in March 2007 she received the word that she felt was sent from above. She and Alexis were going to get a home! “I felt like I had won the lottery. I never thought I’d get a home. I said, Lord if it’s meant to be…. I thank everyone for this blessing.”

Jan and Alexis worked 251 sweat-equity hours for Habitat for Humanity to earn their home. Alexis received credits for her grades at school. The biggest credit came this past week. Alexis learned she won the national essay contest for Habitat for Humanity. She told her mother she was proud to help earn their home. In her essay Alexis shows how far she and her mom have come since that first night at Haven House in September 2005.

“My mom and me want to plant flowers everywhere. I’m so happy I don’t have to keep moving around. Me and my mommy used to lay in bed at bedtime and pretend how our house would look. It is all mine and nobody can hurt us. My Habitat Home means a lot to me because it will be my home and that means a lot to me.”

Alexis plans to paint her bedroom pink and go with a “High School Musical” theme. She’ll be able to start painting soon.

The opening prayer ceremony for the Habitat for Humanity Huntersville Builder’s Blitz is Monday June 2 at 6:45 in the morning. After a full week of hard work, the dedication and key ceremony is Saturday June 7 at 1:00.

Jan and Alexis feel overwhelmed, excited, and blessed to be moving into their new three bedroom home. They embody the ForKids mission. Together they’ve moved from homelessness to home ownership. A journey made easier, according to Jan, by the dedication, love, and support from ForKids. “I never would have made it without ForKids.” If Jan had left that first night, they’d be living in her car instead of moving into a butter yellow home with hunter green shutters and a pink “High School Musical” bedroom.

Published in Charity
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