October 27 marked the end of a long but worthwhile journey for two of our partner families. Habitat for Humanity of Greater Dayton hosted the first ever dual Women Build Dedication ceremony to welcome Kasandra and Olive into their new Habitat homes. Approximately 100 well-wishers were able to witness both single mothers and their children receive the keys to their new forever homes. Kasandra and Olive are now officially first-time homeowners!
The day not only marked the end of Kasandra and Olive’s road to homeownership, but it also marked the end of the 2023 Women Build Committee’s efforts. Habitat for Humanity of Greater Dayton Women Build Committee Chairperson Elizabeth Breitenstein enjoyed the day but was already focused on what she sees as a very bright future.
“I’m looking forward to moving forward,” she said. “I’ve been surprised by the number of women throughout Dayton and the Miami Valley who have joined us and worked on this project with such passion.”
“I didn’t know what to expect,” she continued, referring to taking on the project. She has had a direct hand in the building of hundreds of homes as Marketing Director of Fischer Homes, but none involved volunteer workers and fundraising. “The effort people have put in has been incredible. It has been an honor to work with these women, and I am looking forward to working on the next Women Build project. Women love swinging hammers!”
Women empower the Habitat mission to a great degree. Many serve on our boards and committees, volunteer on our worksites and in our two ReStores, shop and donate to those ReStores, and provide a significant amount of our funding throughout the year.
“Women help us out on all of our builds, but this one is especially focused on ladies helping ladies,” said Norm Miozzi, Executive Director of Dayton Habitat. The result is life-changing and even legacy-changing.
“There is no giveaway here; this is the result of a lot of hard work and dedication,” said Dave Mauch, Development Director of Dayton Habitat. “Earlier this morning these two ladies signed mortgage paperwork with a zero-interest rate. This allows them to buy a new house at an affordable price.”
“At Habitat, nothing happens without partnership, and nothing happens without teamwork,” he continued. “There were hundreds, probably thousands of people who came together to make this happen. And lives have been changed forever.”
The magnitude of the moment was not lost on Olive, who was emotional during her remarks. Both her sons were able to be present during this special day.
“It is a blessing to get my home, and I thank God,” she said. “I was dreaming about this day since I started my family. Now I call Habitat my family. They have provided me with so many things and so many friends.”
It has been quite a journey for Olive, her older son Oliver, and younger son Olis. Oliver remembers that journey vividly. It included fleeing a refugee camp in their war-torn homeland of Rwanda for Kenya, where Olive won a lottery for a visa to America. She could only find work in a factory upon arrival, but she worked hard at Clark State College to get an associate degree in 2021. Now she works as a lab tech.
The boys have about a 15-year age gap, but there’s no gap between their hearts and their love for their mother.
“It is a great honor to be able to have a home like this,” said Oliver, a junior at the University of Dayton. “I’m so thankful that my little brother won’t have to experience all that we have. Moving from country to country, you never knew what to expect.
“My mother is the kindest person that I’ve ever met,” he added. “She would help anyone, even if it cost her. She deserves this; she is such a strong person.”
Despite the long journey, the family has finally landed in a forever home. His advice: “Keep going and don’t let setbacks be a downfall.”
Kasandra also knows about setbacks, determination, and the benefits of a Habitat home. Her life was heavily influenced by the stability of growing up in her mom’s Habitat home. The pre-school teacher overcame many challenges to get to where she is now, including earning her GED and being a single mother of her daughter, who was diagnosed with social development challenges.
“Growing up in a Habitat home meant a lot to me,” she said. “I’ve wanted to provide that for my daughter. I had to take care of a few things, but I knew in the end that we would get here and that we would have our forever home.” Now she can take pride in being a Habitat homeowner!
If you would like to become part of our next Women Build effort to make the dream of homeownership a reality for a low-income family, visit daytonhabitat.org/womenbuild or call 937-586-0860.