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  • Built on a strong foundation: Hayden family update

Built on a strong foundation: Hayden family update

One of the best parts of my job at Habitat is working with the families throughout their journey of homeownership before, during, and after purchase.  It is the three-year anniversary of home purchase for the Hayden family and Bonnie brought me a gift that she said I can share with you. 

Bonnie is planning a trip to Disneyland at Christmas. Her family has been saving for the last three years to make this dream a reality.  At first, I didn’t see the full importance of the gift she was giving me until I remembered the journey that her family had taken.   

Bonnie’s family seems so different since the first time we met that I had forgotten that my colleague and community partner had struggled once. 

I’d forgotten that fear, lack of hope, and despair had been the feeling I always got when I spoke to the family three years ago.  I’d forgotten that I had fears for them as well.  If the boys didn’t go right home from school, would the temporary ramp get put out so Bonnie could get some fresh air—a brief escape from the mold-riddled air that filled their apartment at the time?  Many nights I worried. What would happen if a fire broke out and she couldn’t escape since the handles on the door could not accommodate her gnarled hands and the wheelchair couldn’t get down the steps without the temporary ramp in place? 

BESIDES the immediate needs of the family, I was frightened about the future for the boys, if independence for Bonnie was not achieved.  Would college be a possibility?  How would they get to have independent lives of their own?  Would the emotional impact of long term despair ever leave the family? “Nothing good ever stays good” was a frequent comment from Bonnie.   

Bonnie once told me that she had felt invisible in her wheelchair and had always stayed watching from the edge of the room.  She kept her two boys close, a strategy for coping with both her and the boys health issues—health issues that caused the youngest son, Bobby, to miss a lot of school and struggle with his grades.  Andrew rarely went a year without hospitalization for his lungs and Bonnie, confined to a wheelchair with arthritis since she was a small girl  with arthritis spent years trapped in an apartment that was so substandard, and that  after she bought her Habitat home, the  house was condemned.   

I had forgotten all of this because it no longer applies to this family. I see this family as strong, pro-active, forward looking contributing leaders in the community.  This family is on a new path-one where stability and self-reliance are actually obtainable, not merely aspirational.   Having a decent place to live removed barriers to opportunities, success and health that might have been part of a family’s life for years, if not generations.   

Bonnie’s gift to me, to Habitat, and to you is proving that when your foundational needs are met with a decent, affordable shelter, your life is not about just surviving but thriving. When you have all the tools to make the shifts in your life, you prosper.  The Hayden family has flourished in so many ways.  Bonnie, no longer the invisible woman in the room, coaches other homebuyer partners and teaches a section of the financial education program on credit resolution and budgeting tips. 

Andrew, who has graduated from BCC with a degree in electronics, is currently a Department Manager at a big box store while he pursues a bachelor’s degree in robotics at Southern New Hampshire College. He hopes that he can apply his skills towards projects that help society. 

Robert has not only recovered from a serious lung condition from living with mold but he made sure that his health problems didn’t get in the way of his life goals. He graduated high school on time, and is now a full time certified mechanic. Robert’s medical problems have all but vanished now that they live in a home with excellent air quality.  

Like you, the Hayden’s want to use the blessings that they have received to help others.  Shortly after the home dedication, Bonnie found out that, Adam, a friend of the family was living in his car for months.  She invited him to come and live with them and helped him gain the tools that he needed to graduate and obtain employment with Crane and Company and find an apartment of his own.  When asked about this Bonnie said “How could I not help him, when so many people helped me? That’s what we do at Habitat.” 

That’s what you do when you give to Habitat. This is the success that you make happen, so I send my gratitude to both you and The Hayden’s for this very special gift.  

Be a part of the change. Be a part of the story. Be a part of someone's future. 

 

In partnership, 

Carolyn Valli 

 

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