Hello, my name is Stephanie. My daughter and I have been living in a home we bought through Habitat for over eight years now. Before I approached Habitat, I was a single mother living in Edmonton with very little support. I had moved from the town I grew up in to go to school and most of my family and friends were at least a couple hours away. I had just finished university and had begun renting a townhome I could afford in the North end of the city. The management had stopped completing necessary repairs because the complex was due to be torn down, so the list of required repairs was quite long. The basement was crumbling, pipes were leaking and there was mold growing in the basement. I was already struggling to make ends meet with the lower rent that I was paying, so I felt that there was nothing I could do to change our environment.
I was discussing my living situation with my mom, and she suggested that I apply for a home through Habitat. She thought it would be a great way for me to get out of my current living situation, but I was hesitant. I felt that there were people who needed this type of support more than I did and that I shouldn’t take the opportunity from them. I am not sure why I felt this way, if it was my pride or something else that was making me feel this way, but it took me some time to realize that I deserved the opportunity just as much as other individuals who applied.
I began researching the criteria to become a home owner through Habitat and looking into what opportunities were available in Edmonton. Once I applied, the staff made the process easy to understand and also made every effort to help me along the way. I began with the interview process, and once my application had been accepted, I started working on my 500 volunteer hours. I had no experience doing any type of construction work, but I was able to take safety courses before going out to a build site which really put me at ease. Once on site, the staff as well as other volunteers were working beside me towards a common goal and the atmosphere was so positive and uplifting. I was able to help with everything from shoveling rocks into a crawl space to framing and even finishing. The skills I learned have continued to benefit me in my home ownership, but more importantly the confidence I gained throughout the process has led me to make decisions to do things I otherwise wouldn’t have had the courage to do.
Becoming a home owner has helped me in the obvious ways, like in how I was able to become more financially stable and have been able to provide my daughter with a permanent place to call home, but also in ways that I hadn’t considered. I have had a sense of security, almost as if having my own home provides a sense of safety. I do not need to worry about being surprised by rent increases or the required maintenance not being completed. In addition to this, I now see myself as worthy of receiving support when I need it. I know that I needed help and that it was okay to ask for it. In return I have been able to help others through both work and volunteer, but most meaningfully to my family by donating volunteer hours to other families who are struggling to get their 500 hours completed.
From the first home interview with Habitat to the day I received the keys to my new home I felt supported by both the staff and the other home owners, and this supports for me has continued on as a new home owner. It was, and still is, an amazing journey filled with wonderful people and learning experiences.