MEET SOME OF OUR HOMEOWNERS
Meet Izzy, Kayleigh, and baby boy Emerson!
Izzy is a Veterinarian Assistant, currently attending classes, and working to become a certified surgery veterinary technician. Kayleigh is a Veterinarian Technician.
Izzy shared his family's story & current living situation:
“I heard about the Habitat program growing up, but never thought to apply or felt I needed the help until this year. I am one to believe others need these opportunities more than me. My pride tells me I can make it on my own, so let someone else have a chance who really needs it. Now I feel I am that person in need of assistance.
I am a United States Marine Corps veteran. I left Worcester when I was 18 to go serve. I signed up for 8 years. It was heartbreaking and life changing to leave my family. Although the Marine Corps was tough, being back home was very difficult too. It was a different battle and difficult to adjust to. The effects of the Marine Corps have kept me distant from people and the ones I love. Kayleigh keeps me strong during these times of hardship.
On my birthday August 10, 2020, the universe gave us a gift. Kayleigh and I found out she was pregnant. Ever since finding out we were having a baby; we’ve pushed harder to be ready. Our baby boy, Emerson, was born in April 2021.
The apartment we currently live in isn’t in the greatest condition. Winters are cold. I constantly have to run to the basement to turn the heat back on as it keeps going out. It’s worse when the heat gives out while we are sleeping and we wake up to freezing temperatures. The apartment isn’t insulated well, so heat leaves quickly leading to large gas bills. Rain or melting snow can make the ceiling leak.
The landlords have been working on the house with no sell date for us to be ready for a rent increase or to move out. I have a truck with no heater or a/c and needs new brakes, but it has been hard to save for these repairs. The rent and other monthly expenses are difficult.
The yard is filled with trash, glass and debris. Luckily our small dog, Evee, is smart enough not to walk on the glass or go near the trash pile. Although I am grateful for the apartment, we need a place to keep our baby boy, Emerson, safe, secure and healthy for years to come.”
Located in Northborough, Izzy and Kayleigh's safe and affordable townhome will contain 2 bedrooms and 2 ½ bathrooms.
Home Sweet Home. Meet the Mikhail family!
“I came from my original country (Egypt) in June 2012 with my two sons who were 12 years old, and 8 years old. My husband was still in Egypt.
I found myself alone in a new country, new culture, and different language; moreover, I was responsible for 2 boys. I had to work hard to continue my residence paperwork to send legal paperwork to my husband in Egypt in order to enable him to come to the United States. It was not easy for me to satisfy kids who felt away from their dad, their country and their friends.
We started living in a small apartment with one bedroom. A new dream started to appear in our life—to have a home of our own. Of course, it must be bigger than the one-bedroom apartment where we lived. In 2014, my husband joined us, and I thanked God that we became again a complete family.
To follow our dreams, we started looking for a home. An employee at our local town hall told us that there was a sign nearby showing that Habitat for Humanity MetroWest/Greater Worcester builds affordable houses. This was my first time hearing about Habitat for Humanity. We applied, and in December 2016 we won the lottery. We moved into our new house in March 2019!” - Cherine Mikhail
And Mrs. Mikhail has since let us know that she has become an American citizen.
Home Sweet Home. Maggie—A Story of Selflessness
Maggie, a single Mom with three boys, is the very embodiment of selflessness and compassion even in the face of her own housing crisis. Maggie and her boys were scheduled to move into their forever home in Holliston in November 2017. When Maggie heard that Mona, a single Mom with two boys who would be her neighbor (but had to wait several months until the next Habitat home was built) was homeless, Maggie volunteered to give up her home so Mona and her family could have a safe place to live. Learn more about Mona and her family below.
With your support, and the hard work of hundreds of volunteers, Maggie’s home—for which she waited an extra ten long months—was completed and dedicated in September of 2018. Maggie could finally say, “Home Sweet Home” for good. With so many unhappy headlines in the news these days, we find Maggie’s sacrifice nothing short of inspiring and courageous.
Maggie’s home—our 50th home build—and the story behind it—are very special indeed.
In Maggie’s own simple words: "Having a home gives you a confidence boost, freedom, and strength. The home is a cozy place to live and enjoy the things we like, whether it’s a garden with flowers, or healthy herbs. Our family can make it the way we want.”
Home Sweet Home. Meet Mona and her sons!
Before becoming a Habitat for Humanity MetroWest/Greater Worcester partner family—Mona and her two sons faced homelessness. Before moving into her forever home Mona, who works as a certified nursing assistant, told us she couldn’t wait to have her own home so that she could cook all of her favorite foods and watch movies. She was also excited to be able to invite her family to come visit. Her eldest son Loressen, loves video games and being outside. He was so happy they would have a large yard to play in at their new home. Jason, her youngest son, was excited to ride his bike in his new neighborhood and eat pizza at their very own kitchen table! Mona’s home was dedicated on November 18, 2017.
Home Sweet Home. Meet Coreen and her sons!
“We were chosen for a house that was being rehabbed and given a second chance, just like me and my boys were rebuilding our lives. The Habitat home and my family were made for each other. Watching my boys play in our yard with our dog is such an incredible feeling. They can walk to the library and ride their bikes to the park with friends. It gives us a feeling of being normal and calm. The best feeling happened just last weekend when we were hiking. My son came up and hugged me and told me he was proud of me. He told me he loved me and how happy he was that I could keep my promise I made to them of having a home.” - Coreen
Read more about Coreen’s story in A Dog and His Family Find their Forever Home:
Many Habitat families come from substandard housing where owning a pet is either not allowed or too expensive to afford. And for many children, it’s all they dream of.
Meet William and Justin with their dog, Tuck. Tuck was picked up as a stray and rescued by their single Mom, Coreen.
She said, “Tuck touched my heart right away. He needed a new start and a forever home where he could be safe, just like us. The Habitat home we live in got a new start by being rebuilt rather than torn down. Just like myself and my children, Tuck got a new start with a safe home and loving family." - Coreen
Home Sweet Home. Meet Jackline and her daughters.
Before Jackline moved into her safe and affordable home in 2018, her two school-age daughters were not able to play outside–even with supervision–due to the unsafe neighborhood which had a very high crime rate. The family could not control whether the heat in their apartment was too warm or too cold, and critical windows would not open. Imagine living this way, let alone during COVID-19.
“When I moved here seven years ago from Uganda, life had been rough. I was pregnant, and it was difficult to cope in a new country. My brother helped me get on my two feet, and once I gave birth, we moved into public housing. I started to work part-time, and with the help of my brother, who was not only the breadwinner, but a college student, we were able to survive.
A friend talked to me about pursuing home ownership. I was only a part-time worker and couldn’t afford a home, but she mentioned Habitat for Humanity, which lit a fire in me.
I never gave up since that time! I got a full-time job, then I applied. When I saw Habitat staff at my door with lots of balloons, I was filled with joy. I had been accepted! Habitat for Humanity has changed my life forever. It was always my dream to find a peaceful home for my daughters, and now it is a dream come true! Seeing my girls running around the house every morning makes me feel great joy.
I always made a promise to my daughters to live a better life, and I will do anything to achieve those goals. I will always give the love and support they need to continue their education and to live in a peaceful home. I also have a dream of pursuing higher education! Moving into our home gave us a sense of peacefulness, strength and belonging. The house is a perfect place.” - Jackline
Home Sweet Home. Read about Gina's journey to homeownership and her hopes for the future.
Gina was renting an apartment in a 100-year-old triple-decker with a leaking roof and a faulty heating system. The bills were so high that hot water could not be used for washing hands or dishes. The mildew in the hallway made it hard to breathe and the rugs were always damp. Can you imagine sheltering in place in that situation? Thankfully, Gina doesn’t have to. Gina and her daughter moved into a Habitat home in 2017. And though this does not make her immune to the impacts of the 2020 pandemic, it has allowed her to stay safe.
"My dreams for the future, my hope for the future: never have to move again! Everyone wants only the best for their children, and I am no different. I want to see my daughter happy. She smiles most of the time now. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen those teeth. I’m sure the braces didn’t help either. Those of you who have teens know you never see your kids come out of their bedrooms unless they want something. Tara actually hangs out in the living room. It’s really a small miracle.
My hope is to have holidays. I want to have people come over for dinner, and I like to plan menus and parties and shop for food and run around like a nut just to get ready for entertaining. It may seem like a little thing but I want to argue with my family about who gets what holiday–just like you.
I want my daughter to invite her friends over. In our last place I would tell her to invite a friend over and she would always say no. She didn’t want anyone to see the old place. I’ve been introduced to at least 4 friends just in the last three months. Now if I could only get them to stay awhile and eat something!
I want to see my neighborhood turn into a mini Habitat for Humanity city. I can walk to my new neighbors Lindsay and Steve’s house and hopefully in the near future be able to walk to new home locations and volunteer to build. I will see my daughter graduate from high school this year, and later college from this house. I will be able to see her wave when she comes home for the weekend/vacations or moves out. With that said, I want to see the neighborhood kids grow up and move out as well.
I want to see my granddaughter feel comfortable in her new bed. I want her to feel special. She has her own closet and bureau and will say let’s go home when we are out and about. I want her to feel safe and secure and I want her to know this is her house, as well as ours. She loves to find a recipe, and then we bake. The kitchen is the heart of the home. Home is where Tara and Kairi are.
My home is beautiful but what is more beautiful is all those people that give up endless time and talent to put me in this house. Thank you to all of the staff, volunteers and partners for building us a decent home to live in, dream, grow and prosper!" - Gina
Home Sweet Home. Meet the Ewings family!
The Ewings family lived on a busy street in a first-floor apartment for five years with their three boys who have autism, dreaming of owning their own home one day. When they got a call from us, that dream finally came true, and the family is now living in an energy efficient remodeled home in Worcester. The Ewings home achieves nearly zero net energy consumption, and it is our first deep energy retrofit with LEED certification. This helps the Ewings family to be able to save on the high cost of energy.
“Children who have autism, they bolt, and the apartment we lived in previously was on a very busy road. We worried because of the location. It was also cramped, and it was expensive. Then, Sophie applied for a Habitat home with encouragement from a former co-worker who is a volunteer with the organization.
We were notified that we were selected and were “in the running” for a home. We were excited, but a month later, we received a letter saying we were not selected. My wife took it hard, I told her, ‘Don’t worry, honey. We’ll save and have a house someday.’
Sophie Ewings shared her thoughts on living in her own home
“Habitat For Humanity changed our quality of life. Every single donation, every single person who made our dream a reality is an angel. My husband served Honorably in the Marine Corps, and what we have gotten in return for his service has been life changing. We are forever grateful. Strangers became saviors. There are no words to express our Thanks. Hopefully the smile on our boys' faces tells you, even if they don't have the words. All of our Best to all of you Angels. Be well, friend." – Sophie
Home Sweet Home. Meet Christina and her children!
Christina and her five daughters were previously living in an overcrowded home in Boston. As a hard working single parent, providing for her daughters as rent prices rose became increasingly difficult. Thanks to her partnership with Habitat, Christina now has a safe, stable, and affordable home where she can watch her daughters grow up. With access to an incredible public school system in Wayland, Christina and her daughters will be able to build a better life together.
Home Sweet Home. Meet Erin and her two children!
Before moving into their Habitat home Erin, her daughter, Kaitlyn, (age 10 at the home dedication) and son, Markus, (age 4 at the home dedication) shared what they were most looking forward to once in their forever Habitat home.
Erin loves to spend time outdoors, and was looking forward to having a yard where she can garden, building a sandbox for the kids, and having a place to sit outside and read books while the children play.
Kaitlyn was looking forward to moving in with her pet rabbit Ravin and possibly being able to get a second rabbit. She was also excited to get to paint her own room her favorite color, orange.
Markus was looking forward to playing in the yard with his new neighbors.
Home Sweet Home. Meet Fabiola and her children!
Fabiola Nizigiyimana lived in Rwanda with her family for 20 years. Escaping from genocide, Fabiola and her family moved to Tanzania where they remained for 13 years in a refugee camp. In the turmoil of war, she was separated from her family and her husband was killed.
In 2007, Fabiola was able to move with her five children to Worcester. After learning about Habitat for Humanity MetroWest/Greater Worcester from a friend, Fabiola qualified for a home and has been so thankful for the opportunity to build her life - something she never could have dreamed of during her time in Tanzania. Setting permanent roots in Worcester is a dream come true.
Fabiola is active in the Worcester community and volunteers her time at Worcester’s African Community Education Center where she acts as a translator and guide to those who are new to Worcester. Fabiola has also been honored as a “Champion of Change” at the White House for her work with immigrant and world farmers. Fabiola is an exceptional gardener, and has enjoyed growing fresh vegetables in her yard on Plantation Street.
Home Sweet Home. Meet the Bilal Family!
Born in Somalia, Rukia Bilal’s family moved to Kenya when she was just 7 months. When she was 13, her family moved to Manchester, New Hampshire. One more move after that brought her to Worcester where she remains with her family in a Habitat home. Rukia is now a single mother of 3 boys. One of her boys suffers from a rare genetic disorder where he cannot feel pain called Congenital insensitivity to pain with anhidrosis (CIPA). He is one of 17 people in the United States with CIPA. Everyday Rukia is met with the issue of supporting and caring for all of her boys. A Habitat home provides a safe and comforting environment that allows her boys to flourish and grow without fear. Not only does Rukia bring smiles and joy to her family every day, but she works as a rehabilitation nurse, helping individuals through some of their toughest hours. Rukia was thrilled about becoming a Habitat homeowner. “My children would always ask “Mommy when are we going to move into our own home? And now it is a reality.”
Home Sweet Home. Meet the Culross Family!
June was a single woman, living and working in Worcester, but her situation changed significantly when a family crisis resulted in June stepping forward to take in her three young nieces, at the time, ages four, three, and two. She tried her best to provide for MacKenzie, Kylee, and Breanne. The four then were living in a small, two-bedroom apartment with inadequate plumbing and heating. There were no window screens, making summers hotter and winters colder than what most others experience. With the neighborhood unsafe for the girls to play in, they all had dreams of owning their own home. But with the high cost of housing in Worcester, there was no way June could afford even the smallest house; and a larger apartment was too expensive, leaving them with no options.
Then, June read a newspaper article about Habitat’s call for homeowner partners. She completed the forms, knowing that many others would be applying as well. Although June and the girls talked about owning a home, they tried not to get their hopes too high. Several months later, while waiting for two Family Selection Committee members to make a second home visit, June made a small pot of coffee to serve. When the entire 10-member committee showed up with flowers and balloons to announce that June had been selected as a Habitat homeowner, she and the girls jumped with joy.
Since being selected for Habitat, June has felt a strong connection to the organization and the other partner families, and she has helped build other families' homes in addition to her own. Each Saturday morning, she would arrive on-site full of energy and enthusiasm ~ and she is amazed not only with the construction skills she acquired in the process, but also with the kindness and generosity of Habitat's volunteers. Although her girls expressed interest in helping build their house, at the time, they were too young to be on-site. Instead, they helped their aunt/legal guardian earn sweat equity hours by getting good grades in school.
June says she still cannot adequately describe her feelings of the day she was selected for a Habitat home. She is especially pleased for Mackenzie, Kylie, and Breanne as they now have a safe, affordable home in which to grow. It is sometimes still hard for them to believe they have amenities such as an extra half-bath and a real linen closet.
Home Sweet Home. Meet the Gega Family!
The Gegas left their native Albania and came to this country in hopes of a better life for themselves and their daughters, Stela and Elisabeta. All have overcome numerous hurdles to achieve this goal. In Albania, they sold the family home so their daughters could come to the United States and attend American colleges. Stela graduated from Ohio's Muskingum College with a demanding triple major in economics, international business, and psychology. She is worked toward her master's degree at Assumption College in Worcester. Younger sister Elisabeta graduated from Clark University in Worcester, also challenging herself by majoring in economics and psychology.
The Gega Family are grateful for opportunities to participate in a society where freedom and independence are the norm, rather than the exception. After being chosen for a Habitat home, the Gegas eagerly partnered with Habitat in every way, and Anna treated work-site volunteers to a delicious lunch of spinach pie and baklava. Although they are older than some Habitat families, they were willing to work hard to obtain their first home in America ~ a home that would not be possible for them to achieve without the help from their new friends at Habitat.
Upon meeting the Gega Family during a home visit, members of the Family Selection Committee were greeted like long lost friends coming to share a cup of coffee and a few laughs. The committee agreed that the Gega family epitomized the “American Dream.”
Home Sweet Home. Meet Cindy and her son Tim!
"I have never found the right words to sum up all that I have felt about our house and the people involved in its existence. There was a time in my life when everything seemed hopeless. I didn’t know where my son (Tim, age 7 at the home dedication) and I were going to live. My income was too low for not only a mortgage, but also to rent a basic apartment in the area. I applied for lower income housing but was told there was a 10-year waiting list. When I looked into getting assistance such as food stamps, I found that I made slightly more than the guidelines to qualify. Being in the gray area, my son and I went to stay with my parents temporarily - always knowing that we had to move on, but not knowing where to go. We have never unpacked.
During that time, Tim had chronic croup and asthma, which led us to the emergency room too many times to count. Each episode would leave me scared to death that we wouldn’t get to the hospital in time. He had surgery to have tubes in his ears five times; and once to have his tonsils and adenoids removed due to severe apnea. Hospital bills and co-payments were piling up, and I had the constant pressure at work about taking off too much time for Tim’s illnesses. It wasn’t easy financially or emotionally, and I prayed day and night for answers.
One day, Tim came home from school with a flyer about a house being built by Habitat for Humanity. I applied, not really believing we would be chosen. I continued to pray: in the morning, at work, on the way home, and before I went to bed. My prayer wasn’t that God would choose me, but rather that he would choose the family who needed a home the most. Even though I wanted it so much, my stomach was always in knots and I had trouble sleeping.
The day I was selected for a Habitat home was one of the happiest days of my life! It has still not completely sunken in. God threw us a life preserver and has given us a chance. The fear of being homeless is slowly melting away. Working with the Habitat volunteers has really added something to my life that had been missing. I have felt a unique belonging. All the volunteers have their own stories, their own personalities, and their own reasons for volunteering. Some came to learn the art of house-building, while others need to give back to the community. I have so much gratitude for them all. It has been a year I will never forget. Every time I look at the roof, I will remember the people who worked so hard in the blistering sun to make it just right. I certainly won’t forget my own sore muscles and blisters.
The house is alive! It is full of laughter, sweat, and a few unfortunate drops of blood. God has whispered in my ear, “It’s okay to unpack now.” I am finally home." - Habitat Homeowner Cindy
Home Sweet Home. Meet Brenda and her daughters!
Brenda and her daughters Brittany (age 11 at the home dedication) and Joanne (age 8 at the home dedication) have strong ties to Northborough – ties that have only strengthened through their partnership with Habitat. Owning a house in the town where she grew up, works and is raising her children was something Brenda could only dream of. That is, until her daughter brought a Habitat flyer home from school. When asked to explain what it meant to be selected for a Habitat home, Brenda said, “I won’t have to uproot my children again. Being able to have support in town gives my children and me a stronger sense of family.”
Home Sweet Home. Meet Lynn and her two children.
After spotting an ad in a local paper seeking applicants for a new house to be built by Habitat for Humanity MetroWest/Greater Worcester in Westborough, Lynn immediately applied. At the time, she and her family: son David, and daughter Sarah, were living in subsidized housing, and although they were looking to get a new home, they couldn’t afford it on Lynn’s salary as a drug and alcohol counselor.
Lynn still remembers the day she was notified of her family’s selection: “The doorbell rang but they wouldn’t come in. I went over and it was Habitat staff at the door. Twelve people came in with balloons and flowers and congratulated me on getting the house. I was a mess. I cried for nearly an hour.”
Home Sweet Home. Meet Lydia and her children.
Lydia Rivera and her children Lydia, Orlando, and Bernardo, whose ages at the dedication were 12, 11 and 8, respectively, were living in an apartment with her mother, grandmother and brother. A lack of bedrooms and beds forced mother and daughter to each sleep on a couch with the boys sleeping on makeshift beds in the dining room. Becoming a homeowner through Habitat was a dream come true for Lydia, who says, “I really want to have stability for my children, with beds to sleep in and a yard to play in.”