In 2005, Shondale would ride past the same house over and over on his bike. He was 12 years old, and he was scoping out where his soon-to-be best friend and crush, Jamecka, lived. Shondale’s family had just bought their home from Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity a few blocks from where Jamecka’s mom had bought a house from Habitat three years earlier.
Twenty years later, Shondale is back to riding past a house over and over – only this time, Jamecka’s by his side, and they’re scoping out the house that will soon be their family’s home.
Jamecka and Shondale – who have been together since they met as kids and neighbors – decided to apply for Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity’s home-buying program in 2019 after seeing so many family members and friends go through the buying process with Habitat. Growing up in safe, stable houses that their families owned, Jamecka and Shondale say they have always felt highly motivated to become homeowners themselves. They saw from a young age the undeniable value of having something to invest in, the value of being in charge of your own space. The couple– who have two daughters, 10 and 2 years old– decided to become homeowners because they wanted to give their girls the same sense of stability and safety that they had as kids.
“We want everything for them,” says Jamecka, “that’s why we’re doing this.”
At ten years old, their older daughter is the same age now that Jamecka was when her mom bought her house. Jamecka says she knows how much her own mom’s accomplishments motivated her, and she is proud to be in a position to provide that same example. Jamecka says their oldest is already talking about buying her own house someday once she is a famous musician. Until then, she’ll settle for painting her new bedroom yellow.
As for her Jamecka and Shondale, they are looking forward to building a fence, putting in a fire pit, and generally making their yard a gathering place and oasis.
The house that the couple is rehabbing and getting ready to buy is a cute, three-bedroom ranch with sage green siding. It is located right in between both of their childhood homes, where their parents still live. They say that in many ways, it feels meant to be to end up so close to the homes they loved as kids, the homes that brought them together as a couple, the homes that made so much in their lives possible.
In their new home, Jamecka and Shondale are envisioning a place of growth and success, but more than anything, they see a place of happiness. “We already have our little family,” Shondale says. “This house will be our castle.”