Here is a wonderful post on the Family Promise Community Blog, written by a former guest, Rebecca Esparza. Since graduating from FP of Lawrence, Rebecca has gone on to earn her social work degree from University of Kansas, become Family Service Coordinator for the Lawrence Affiliate, accept a seat on our national Guest Advisory Council, and, just recently, move into her own home, built through a partnership with Habitat for Humanity.
Community is the word that comes to mind when I think about being in my home. Community is the reason I have a home.
I recently finished partnering with Habitat for Humanity and building a home for myself and my family. We moved into our home on September 27, 2017. I worked on my sweat equity hours for over a year, and from time to time I would ask someone if they were going to take my house away. I was so afraid I would do something that would cause me to lose this opportunity. I thought something would come up from my past that would take me out of the running for my new home. My family and I have many of the traits that cause concern: multiple years in recovery from substance abuse, only fair rental history from being homeless and a fair credit score from years of my money managing me, student loan debt, a myriad of other bills that never got paid, and a house with four teenagers. All these traits scream high risk, but the community took a chance on us.
A few years ago, the Family Promise community provided us shelter and opportunity to work toward finding housing again. I was provided with case management that helped my family long-term. It was through my relationship with Family Promise that I was encouraged to apply to Habitat for Humanity. Family Promise of Lawrence and Habitat for Humanity Lawrence had developed a partnership that helped families become homeowners. It was through this opportunity that I was chosen to build a house.
This house was more than a dream because I never imagined that I would get a chance to own my own home. After a lifetime of instability—being under-housed, being homeless, feeling anxious most times—I got my own home. It was because groups of people in this community worked together to give me the chance. All I had to do was accept the help. I had no idea when I was sleeping on cots in a church that six years later I would sign a deed to my very own home.
Family Promise, along with Habitat for Humanity, has given me an opportunity that was never even close to being on my radar.
I experience an underlying contentment daily as I go home—not to a house I rent, but to a home, on land that belongs to me, where I have a voice to speak and security in tomorrow. It is through these relationships that I have gained the most joy, and all I ever had to do was put in some hard work and accept the love and hospitality that was offered.