Just the Beginning: A Habitat Family Story

This story is a part of a series we are publishing called “Habitat Family Stories”. They’re the stories of our partner families from all walks of life in varying stages of their journey. Many of them have been in their Habitat homes for close to a decade. Get to know the families we work alongside by checking the “family story” tag

      Annette was not a stranger to construction work when she applied too and was accepted into Habitat’s home ownership program but it did show her that she was cable of living the life of her wildest dreams. After working with Habitat to build her home, she continued to walk through doors she never thought were open to her over the next decade.

“I come from a construction background, meaning that my father and my grandfather … they were construction engineers, and they owned their own companies, and so on. But I also come from a time where women were frowned upon to be in that industry. Had I been their son, I would have had my own company. But what this did, was it just drove me. Because I got to play in the backyard with skill saws and hammers and picks and shovels all the time, and I got to do roofing projects with my grandfather and my father all the time. But never, I never really considered it as a position, or to do this kind of work. I started building these types of homes, and I was like what the heck!”

Annette was working in the in-home care industry when she applied to the Habitat homeownership program. The minimum wage was 10 dollars an hour but she had two kids to take care of by herself. She and her two children were living in a basement apartment with Anette’s sister to keep their “overhead low and their operating costs at a minimum” until something better popped up. “We called it ‘the hole’ because it was so dark. But we had some very, super awesome memories there. We made it work…”      She started her homeownership process when she stumbled upon a Habitat picnic. A single mother of two children living in a one bedroom basement apartment, she jumped into the application process. “They only had a certain amount of homes and there were hundreds of people there, literally, you know. And I just… I knew I was going to get a home!”

After closing on her home in 2004, she became a laborer with the local 440 union and worked on the Sound transit lightrail project. “I’ve done three tunnels since then… I had the juevos, to go walk in there and say I want a job, without being a union worker, without having experience in the industry, but I knew my background. I knew I’d just finished this stuff, building these homes, working in all types of weather, this building homes type construction being such a hands on part of it, I knew that it wasn’t even within my wildest dreams to know that I was going to do, that’s just the direction I went. And here I am.”

Though she says she didn’t have any experience, Anette was described as an overachiever throughout her sweat equity process. She completed close to a thousand hours, and even after she received her home, she continued to volunteer with Habitat, building homes in Othello Park, White Center, and Rainier Vista. “After our homes were done they started another project, and I worked on it… it was the idea that I wanted to be one of those people who got to meet the homeowners, and tell them that I’m also a homeowner.”

It’s been over a decade for Anette, her son Luis and daughter Marciana who are both young adults. Luis has an interest in environmentalism and sustainability while Marciana recently received a College Bound scholarship in addition to the birth of her daughter. “It was not something I wanted for my daughter at 18, but the Gods have smiled upon us. The dad’s involved, his whole family is involved. I’m involved. Luckily, we have the room here to be able to build a nursery.”

In addition to extending space to her daughter and new grandchild, Anette has sheltered several other teenagers and believes that the stability of a roof over their heads has given her children the confidence to go after their own dreams. “They don’t worry about whether or not there’s a roof over their heads. They’ve met along the way, a lot of kids that are not as privileged as they are. They’re living from home to home, or homeless, or been kicked out of their homes…. They’re able to, not only feel enriched, safe and secure in their home, but they can also open the doors to somebody else and say ‘here, come stay in our house.’”

Anette plans on moving into the next phase of her life in another five years. Her first passion is fitness and in 2016 she earned her personal training certification. She’ll qualify for the next level of retirement in the Labor Union while simultaneously building her own business. She has plenty of things to keep her busy and yet still finds more to add to the mix. She’d like to eventually volunteer with Habitat again and particularly likes wrangling with her garden. “I’m yard-challenged right now. I’ve got rose bushes and it doesn’t matter, I can trim them down, but dogonne it, they just keep growing… it gets to be overwhelming sometimes because the dogonne things keep growing! But I love my yard because it’s an ongoing project… it really is my least favorite and my favorite.”