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A Gift to Mama Nozipo Glenn

Mama Nozipo Glenn standing with representatives from Dayton Habitat. She is holding a sign saying "Habitat for Humanity of Greater Dayton fixed my home" and "DaytonHabitat.Org".

“It’s a scary feeling when you get older and feel you will have to depend on others,” said Mama Nozipo Glenn. Like many older adults, Mama has struggled with her mental and physical health as she has aged. Mama may be turning 80 this year, but she is not slowing down. A refugee from South Africa, Mama has lived a life full of travel and giving back to her community.

Mama Nozipo purchased her home 47 years ago. As one can imagine, she has become familiar with every aspect of her house. In her own words, she has said, “I am comfortable [in my home]. I know every sound. I feel safe.” It is for these reasons that she has stayed there for so long.

In December of 2023, Mama Nozipo’s water heater and furnace broke at the same time. This event left her vulnerable in the coldest months of the year. Like many others in similar situations, Mama experienced elevated levels of anxiety, became depressed, and struggled to sleep at night. She described herself as impatient and unhappy- a stark contrast to her typical warm, happy demeanor.

“You can’t sleep not only because you are cold, but because you don’t know what is next,” Mama claimed.

As the temperatures continued to drop, she often thought of her home as a morgue. She would leave her house at first light to find warmth in public buildings like the library, but each night she would have to return home. In those moments she thought, “Oh my goodness, I’m going to die in here.” The conditions were becoming dire when she was referred to Habitat for Humanity of Greater Dayton.

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Dayton offers critical home repairs as part of its commitment to create a world where everyone has a decent place to live. In a world where many of our community members are facing mental stress from unsafe, unaffordable housing, Dayton Habitat works to improve existing homes. The repairs that Dayton Habitat provides for individuals like Mama Nozipo are provided for free. These repairs include roof repairs/replacements, accessibility ramp installation, furnace replacements, and more.

Dayton Habitat was able to come in and replace Mama Nozipo’s furnace and water heater quickly. Now she is able to feel safe and comfortable in her home again. Her independence has been restored and the anxiety she once felt has melted away.

“I am back to being the nice, patient person I used to be!” she exclaimed.

Needing a home repair can be very taxing on not just a person’s physical health, but also their mental health. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, housing is a social determinant of health, and “experiencing housing instability may contribute to stress, anxiety or other mental health symptoms” (learn more here). 

Dayton Habitat is grateful to continue to help those in our community through critical home repairs. For more information on this program, go to Critical Repair Program : What We Do : Habitat for Humanity for Greater Dayton (

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