15 years ago
I first heard about Habitat for Humanity after seeing a commercial for Habitat International on television. My family of four was living in substandard housing conditions and I thought, could it be possible? Could there be a local organization that helped families like mine become homeowners?
It took a few keystrokes on a donated desktop computer that I used for my night college schoolwork to learn Habitat for Humanity of Springfield was a local nonprofit that helped individuals and families renovate their homes and become homeowners through their programs. I quickly scanned the qualifications and saw my family was sorely below the income guidelines and set a goal to keep moving forward and kept Habitat in my back pocket.
5 years ago
After finding employment in my own neighborhood (Grant Beach) at Drew Lewis Foundation, my husband and I were able to pay off all our debt except our auto loans and student loans and we kept those current. In the meantime, we grew our family through adoption and it was clear very quickly we would need a bigger space than our rented four- bedroom home. We found mentors who advised us to continue to work on our credit so we could qualify for a home loan soon.
2 years ago
Team Wilmoth (our family name) became a permanent family of 10 after the adoption of two sibling groups. My husband Josh and I knew it was time to look for a permanent home to fit the needs of our family, including the newly diagnosed special needs of four of our kiddos. We applied for traditional home loans, FHAs, and even explored owner finance options.
We were denied. Or the home was too small. Or we were asked to pay too much down to the owner.
I felt hopeless and betrayed by the system as I scrolled through rental properties that were twice what we were paying at the time.
And then I remembered my “back pocket” and emailed Habitat for Humanity of Springfield.
I’d like to say that was the easy part, but really, the work began at that point. Applying to become a Habitat family was similar to all the other home-loan applications. But this time, we heard a different answer: “If you work hard (350 sweat equity hours for a double adult head of household), you can qualify for a 0% loan on a home built for your family.”
We were elated! Things were coming together as I moved into a role at Life360 Community Services and continued to build my career path while building community partnerships.
Josh and I began to attend classes at Habitat on home ownership, financing, banking, etc. We completed sweat equity hours on other homes in the program and built our own community of support within Habitat for Humanity.
And then COVID-19 happened. Construction halted, volunteer hours stopped, and we all waited. But a bright light shone through: the plans for our seven-bedroom Habitat home in the Woodland Heights neighborhood. Our house renderings were mailed to us, and the kids went to work claiming bedrooms. I found some ink and they put their fingerprints on their bedrooms on the floor plan. That printed floor plan is weathered and now framed for us to enjoy for years to come.
When allowed to return to volunteering, we completed all 350 sweat equity hours and watched as our house evolved from lumber framework to a home.
August 17, 2021
Josh and I became homeowners. We signed a lot of paperwork, heard a lot of “congratulations” and became homeowners. I don’t think it hit us until later when we heard our older adopted kiddos ask if the house could still be “taken away from us” and we were able to say firmly and confidently, “No. This is our home. We own it.”
We gave our kids something adults in their lives had not given them before.
A promise fulfilled.