When Erica first joined our program, we asked her what she was most looking forward to regarding owning her own home and she had an emotional response. “My whole life I’ve wanted to have a mailbox. I’ve never had a mailbox of my own. Cluster mailboxes at apartments are where the drug dealers and criminals hang out so, as a kid, I could never get the mail and I do not let my son check the mail now. I can’t wait to walk down my driveway and get my mail from my very own mailbox.”
Erica grew up in a low-income housing apartment complex in Trotwood with her mom. Her father passed away when she was just 8 years old. As a young child, Erica dreamed of one day becoming a teacher. She credits this to the amazing teachers she had who always encouraged her to do her best.
Erica became a mom to Chace at a young age. She was determined to be the best mom possible to make sure her son had all the opportunities she was never provided as a child. Erica graduated high school. She started working full time and taking college classes for a degree in early childhood education. In 2016 she was named Ohio Student Teacher of the Year and graduated with a Master’s Degree in education. Erica was the first person in her family to graduate college.
After finishing her education and establishing her career, Erica pursued becoming a homeowner but didn’t meet the requirements for a traditional mortgage. She was paying high rent for a small apartment and was beginning to lose hope…but then everything changed, she found out about Habitat for Humanity of Greater Dayton. Erica applied to be a Habitat homeowner and was accepted to our program. She started volunteering for “sweat equity” hours right away.
Erica’s build was scheduled to begin in late fall of 2019, but everything in Erica’s life changed after the Memorial Day tornadoes. Erica and Chace were at their apartment in Trotwood when the storms hit. Erica ignored the warnings at first, like so many others, but soon realized this storm was not like the others. Erica got her 12 year old son out of bed and they huddled together in an interior closet. Erica’s apartment was on the top floor. She and Chace could feel the walls swaying and hear the roof creaking from their closet hiding space. Just moments later, the roof of her apartment was peeled away by a massive tornado. Erica held her son tightly as he cried in terror, she didn’t think they would survive. Erica isn’t sure how much time had passed but as soon as the storm seemed to calm she kicked her way out of now collapsed closet. She stood in what was her living room and gazed into the night sky. The entire apartment complex lost its roof. Erica and Chace lost nearly everything that night.
We were able to break ground on Erica’s home this summer, months earlier than expected. Soon, Erica and Chace will have a safe and affordable home with their very own mailbox. But the need is still so great.
We need your help to build more homes and complete critical repairs for the families in our community. Please consider donating so that families like Erica’s can obtain safe and affordable housing. Every dollar helps us build a better world.
Pictured here are Erica and Chace standing outside of what will soon be their new Habitat home