We first met Charae in her low-rise apartment building on a hot August morning in 2019. We were immediately struck by the vibrant, hopeful woman and the four beautiful children in whose living room we found ourselves. We were visiting Charae to get a feel for where she currently lives. This step in the application process— which often reveals remarkably challenging conditions— is a snapshot of the “before,” from which emerges a remarkably altered “after,” when these families move into a brand new, safe, quality, and affordable home that they helped build and now own.
We were overjoyed to be able to select Charae — a Paralegal who just finished her degree in the spring— as a partner in our home-buying program.
Charae’s oldest boy is 9. In their new house, he is most looking forward to getting a dog. The other two boys can’t wait to have a yard where they can run around and be silly. Her daughter, the baby of the family, already seems to demonstrate an inherited fierce strength from her mother. Born with Microcephaly, she has braved weekly therapy in Chicago to get strong enough to endure leg braces, a victory she accomplished this past winter. Their current third-floor apartment poses a real accessibility challenge for her, and their countdown to leaving it behind has begun.
When Habitat’s applicants are first asked during these interviews why they want this opportunity, the answer is often the same: they want security for their children. Charae, who says that her kids are unquestionably the most important thing in her life, echoed this common sentiment, saying, “This house will bring the relief of knowing that my children forever have a safe home of their own.” Charae is positioned to help build and ultimately buy our “community build” on Rockford’s southeast side. While starting construction on this home has been postponed due to the challenges of bringing volunteer groups together during a pandemic, we remain extremely hopeful for the day in the near future when this beautiful family unloads a moving truck into their new home.