The twins were 10, Jamal was 11, Xavier was 13, Joseph was 15, and Shawn was 18. Six boys. It was 2007 and Constance and her sons were living in a Housing Authority property in Rockford. Nobody in Constance’s family had ever owned a home, and, raising those boys paycheck to paycheck, the responsibility of buying a house sounded overwhelming to Constance.
That’s when she found Habitat.
The family of seven purchased their house through the Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity the following year. Constance remembers anticipating that the best part of owning her own home would be personalizing it— painting the walls, putting in nails, eventually installing wood floors— but she never imagined what owning her own home would do for her boys.
Along with their new home came new traditions. For the first time, the family started making ginger bread houses every winter. They started having nightly meals together around the table. Their home brought them closer together. And it brought them something else, too, Constance says: a sense of responsibility and pride.
“Your own home is something you take pride in. It’s something you achieve through hard work. My boys saw that,” Constance says. “This home taught my boys the responsibility of learning to care for something that’s your own. They learned plumbing, yard work, lighting…everything. And by learning how to be handy, they learned how to be independent and hard-working.”
Since Constance purchased the family’s home, the family has achieved remarkable milestones. All of her boys have gone on to have success in education and careers, including doctorate and master’s degrees. Constance herself went back to school and is now a successful healthcare professional at a local hospital.
Constance is proud that her sons are going places and accomplishing great things. But if they have set sail, it is because they also have an anchor, and Constance is equally proud that, no matter how far they journey, they will always be able to say: I’m going home.