Charlene is a single mother of two children, 14-year-old James and 10-year-old Ira. They are homebodies that love to spend time with each other. Charlene has been a food service worker for the last 15 years but dreams of being a baker. Her passion is baking and decorating cakes and in her free time loves to make art. Ira loves to play outside and take care of their dog, and chickens, while James loves to play games.
For the past five years, Charlene and her kids have lived in a mobile home that barely fits all three of them. They practically live on top of one another, and her son doesn’t even have a door to separate his room from the rest of the house.
There is no separation or privacy. The family has to walk through each other’s space just to get to their own rooms. And for a single mom with one teen and one pre-teen, the lack of privacy has been challenging.
Not only is the house cramped, but there have also been constant plumbing issues and mice infestations that the landlord has never addressed. “The floor is deteriorating, and there’s a leak and under the sink,” Charlene says. “We’re just not comfortable there.”
She tries to make sure her kids stay safe, but living in a dangerous neighborhood only exacerbates their problems.
“Where we’re at, the area is not the greatest,” Charlene says. “There’s a lot of drugs and bad things happening.” The instability and safety concerns make her very worried for the future. She wants so much more for her children.
When Charlene got the call about getting accepted into the program, she couldn’t believe it.
She has been stuck in an awful living situation for the last 5 years, and finally there was a light at the end of the tunnel. She says, “I’m still trying to wrap my head around it.” She is so excited to finally have a safe place for her children—and has been eager to roll up her sleeves and get started on her sweat equity.
Charlene isn’t a total stranger to the build site. Her father was a roofer and she has been studying up by watching home renovation shows. She plans on going to work every Saturday until her hours are done. She is also excited to get to meet some of her neighbors. The people she has met so far have all been so friendly and welcoming. She says, “It’s nice to know that you can meet new people and be able to be trustful of them.”
Finally having something to call her own will be life-changing for Charlene. She wants her children to have a home that they can come back to—a place they can feel comfortable. A place where they feel they belong. She has always done her best to give them the childhood that she never had, and she can think of no better opportunity for them then growing up in a Habitat home.
“I always knew when I did have kids that I was going to make them number one no matter what,” Charlene says. “No matter what God gave me, I always made it work.”
In just a few short months, Charlene will save up for her downpayment and finish up her homebuyer classes. Soon she’ll be able to decorate her kids’ new rooms. As an artist, she has so many ideas but wants to paint roses with smiling faces in her daughter’s room. Her son will finally have a door to his bedroom, and when it rains, they’ll be warm and dry. To Charlene, home is a place everyone can feel comfortable and she can’t to have that feeling every day. To have a place that truly feels like home.