By Jessica M., homeowner
I stand before you today as a proud former home Builder of Filer group 11! I’m a single mother who had the incredible opportunity to build her own home through the wonderful program offered by South Central Community Action Program. It is an honor to share my journey with you and how this program has not only set a great example for my children but also changed our lives for the better.
First and foremost, this program has shown my children the power of determination and hard work. As many of you know the dream of home ownership is not always an affordable one, especially with just one income. It can be very challenging to navigate the world of homeownership, but through this program, I have shown my kids that anything is possible with dedication and perseverance. They have witnessed firsthand the countless hours I dedicated to constructing our home, and it has instilled in them the belief that they too can achieve their dreams through hard work. We also have some amazing memories of the process.
When we first purchased the lot we walked around and I showed them about where the kitchen would be and both of their bedrooms, I have photos of them running around after the sub flooring was installed. I have photos of them beaming with pride after the interior and exterior walls were installed and we could actually walk into the bedrooms. One of my favorite photos is of us making snow angels inside the living room before the roof was on! Showing them these accomplishments and seeing their excitement helped keep me motivated.
Owning a home has given my children and me stability, security, and a sense of pride. It has given us a place to call our own, a place where memories are made, and a place where we can truly thrive. It’s the house that Jess built.
Not only did this program grant me homeownership, but it also taught me a myriad of valuable skills. From learning how to frame walls, fix my roof and siding. This experience has been an incredible learning opportunity. These skills have not only enhanced my self-confidence but also opened doors to future possibilities, especially in my career. Now as a realtor I can help clients do simple repairs to sell their home. I understand inspections and can confidently tell clients we can skip that repair and I can do it for you!! I am now equipped with a set of valuable skills that I can apply to various aspects of my life, both personally and professionally. I have continued to fix up my home especially the back patio, and I owe all my skills to Chad Whitaker, Construction Supervisor, and South Central for teaching me how to build and create and use different tools.
I must admit, the journey to building our home was not without its challenges. The process was physically and mentally exhausting. There were times when I felt overwhelmed and doubted my ability to see it through. I am not from here, so I didn’t have family to come help. I did 95% of it myself. Sometimes friends would come on a Saturday to help with hours but mostly it was charities that would come and help, and I could use some of them to get my hours.
It was hard and I only had one crying breakdown towards the end of the build, and we were supposed to hang up our doors in our homes. Well, that sounds simple enough … but have you ever hung a door by yourself? I’m 5 foot 2 inches, I’m not a tall person and hanging a door alone was actually very hard! I started to do one, felt very overwhelmed, went through and counted how many doors I had to hang and it turns out there was a lot! I think with closets it’s 15! I walked outside to get some wood to use as a wedge, and I saw all the cars that were there helping all my neighbors, and it just made me feel so alone; it was my only pity party the entire build.
But you know what? I DID IT! ALONE! It CAN be done! You can do it alone and I did!!
Every setback was met with resilience, and every obstacle was overcome. The exhaustion and hard work were all worth it when I saw the final product, our beautiful home. The rewards of this journey far outweighed the challenges, and I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to have built a home for my family.
In conclusion, the program offered by South Central has not only set a great example for my children but also changed our lives in ways I could have never imagined. It has shown my children the importance of willpower, problem solving and hard work; made homeownership a reality for us; taught me invaluable skills; and although exhausting, the rewards have been immeasurable.
I’m always asked if I would ever do this again and I answer absolutely! It was worth it.
I hope my story serves as an inspiration to all those who face similar challenges. No matter the circumstances, with the right drive and determination, dreams can be turned into reality. Thank you to the South Central program and to all those who have supported me along this journey.
Also in this issue of Self-Help Builder:
- Community Housing Improvement Program (CHIP): Pictures are worth a thousand words – a photo montage
- Habitat for Humanity of Seattle King County give a hand up with with first building group
- Hawaii Island Community Development Corporation: Through Blood, Sweat, Tears, Missile Threats & Lava Flows – a homeowner’s journey
- Housing America Corporation (HAC): Celebrating Homeownership Month and 2,000 Self-Help homes this year! (PDF)
- Housing America Corporation (HAC): Festeja HAC con más familias beneficiadas el Mes de la Vivienda Propia (Bajo El Sol)
- Kaua’i Habitat for Humanity: 125 affordable homes, 16 years in the making (Kaua’i News Now)
- NeighborWorks Sacramento: Celebrating life-changing achievements (PDF)
- Self-Help Enterprises: Welcome Home Celebration in Orosi! (Self-Help Enterprises)
- Self-Help Homes: A Little Story about my Family & I – a homeowner’s long journey
- Six County Association of Governments: In Their Own Words – a homeowner story
- Whatcom-Skagit Housing: Nine families move in, more than 700 completed (Lynden Tribune)