Beyond the Build: Maria's Story
As a newly-single mom with two children, Maria’s journey toward strength, stability and self-reliance began in California in 2013. After many sleepless nights caused by both worry and working days and nights to make ends meet, Maria knew she needed a change.
Someone once told Maria that if she sees an opportunity, to close her eyes, listen to her heart and go for it. Maria transferred her job from California to North Carolina and went for it. Concord was a new world for Maria’s family and she found life was more difficult than it had been in California. In the span of just seven months, Maria had to move her two children three times. At one point, her small family was living in a single room home with three other families. One day, while Maria was at work and her children were at school, someone broke into the home and stole all of their possessions. Maria was ready to move back to California, but pride stopped her. She persevered with the support of her children.
Maria quickly learned she would need a car to move toward her goals, so she learned to drive and obtained her driver’s license. She began inquiring about housing programs and a friend at work told her about Habitat for Humanity of Cabarrus County. Although it sounded too good to be true, she applied. At the same time, she had saved enough to move into a small, two-bedroom apartment which provided a sense of security for her family. Her son graduated from A.L. Brown and worked part time to help with expenses.
In October 2014, Maria received a surprising call from Habitat Cabarrus – her family qualified for homeownership. While attending financial literacy classes and performing sweat equity for homeownership, Maria was also working a second job to help her father retire in Mexico. While other partner families called her superwoman, Maria credits God and her goal of having something to call her own for pushing her through.
Maria’s home was sponsored by Thrivent Financial, which provided a $40,000 matching grant to build the home – half of what it cost to build a Habitat Cabarrus home. In addition, Thrivent employee volunteers assisted Maria’s family during the Habitat Cabarrus build.
Her dream was becoming a reality. Construction began July 16, 2016, and during that hot summer, 23 churches, local businesses, organizations and individual volunteers helped build her home, which was dedicated November 13, 2016.
Habitat Cabarrus staff told Maria she would need to speak at the dedication and she was terrified because she never liked to speak in public. Then, Maria says, “someone who has always believed in me said, ‘Honey, if you were able to build a house, then you can say thank you to all the awesome people who helped you make this dream come true.’ She was right, so I did it.”
Maria’s family moved into their home a few days before Thanksgiving, an event she says was fitting because they could not have been more thankful. Becoming a homeowner was a long process but Maria says they are not finished yet.
“My family is still volunteering with Habitat and my co-workers who only wanted to do framing are still volunteering too!” says Maria. “It is an awesome feeling to give back. I’ve made strong bonds with other partner families and being a part of this community makes me so proud. I finally feel like I belong. I finally have people who I can call our family, even if they are not related to us biologically.”
Maria says that before Habitat, she could not see a future for her family. Now, she has many plans. She is a homeowner, on the path to becoming a United States citizen and will soon go back to school. She plans to work less so that she can enjoy her home and next year, she will visit her parents in Mexico.
One of the greatest benefits of becoming a homeowner for Maria is that she can now write a letter to the embassy for her father to visit since he does not have a visa. “Becoming a homeowner has opened so many doors for our family,” says Maria. “I am so blessed and thankful to have a home of my own, built in collaboration with Habitat Cabarrus and the loving members of this community.”
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Every Habitat House Changes Lives
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