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.
One of the most noticeable things that changed for Jahna when she got her Habitat home was her commitment to community. “I’ve really changed my outlook on giving and being a part of my community, I’ve really worked hard to put myself in a position where I could be submersed in my community and be at my kids’ school, and volunteer and give back.”
Jahna originally heard about Habitat from another Habitat family who eventually became her family advocates throughout her housing process. They also ended up as her childcare providers and ultimately the god parents to her second oldest child, Briana. Because Jahna was one of the earlier Habitat families to move into her home, back in 2002, she was required to complete 500 hours of sweat equity (a policy that has since been changed) but 200 of those hours were eligible to be donated by volunteers. Even after those 200 hours were met, Jahna’s family and friends continued to help her, working on site with her and supporting her plans. While she was originally selected for housing in 1999, she wasn’t able to complete the sale of her home until 2002, after having to be moved to another housing development. Throughout those four years, her mother continued to watch 2 of her, now grown, children while Jahna worked on site and her boss reliably rearranged her schedule to accommodate her volunteer hours. Over a decade later, she told us the most prominent concept that she’d passed on to her children was the “respect for being in a community.” The Habitat experience heavily influenced the way she raised them.
Since then, 2 of her 4 children have been involved in 4H, she’s chaired the Reflections Art Program at her children’s school and was an Art Docent for her son’s kindergarten and 1st grade classrooms. She’s also been heavily involved in her HOA, serving on the board at one point and taking more of a back seat at others. Due to the confusing nature of HOA bylaws and the frequent negotiations with other management companies, working within the HOA was a challenge that, over time, taught her a lot about her community, their needs and resolution tactics. “I’ve got, for the most part, a really great community of neighbors. I think that one of the unique things about the Habitat community is that you know your neighbors. You know them well… A lot of communities can’t say that… There’s a couple of new homeowners, you know, other neighbors have sold and new people have moved in, but even then we still know each other, Just because, by the design of the way Habitat works.”
On top of being active in her own community over the years, Jahna’s stayed involved with Habitat as well. She currently volunteers as a Family Support Partner, helping new families entering the Habitat program adjust to the demands of our process and the reality of being a home owner. Just a couple years ago in 2015, she expressed interest in helping some of our global affiliates by going on a global village trip and a year later, she completed a Habitat trip to Paraguay.
Having a Habitat home provided the space and safety net she would need to pursue new opportunities while also dealing with life’s abrupt changes. “Being in my Habitat home allowed me to be the stay-at-home mom that I’d always wanted to be, but then all of a sudden that changed.” Jahna’s husband passed away after a motorcycle accident prompting her to go back to school in order to re-enter the job market. In December of 2015, she graduated from nursing school where she was able to get hands on experience working at the Swedish Hospital as a nurse tech. She’s also remarried, become a grandmother of four and additionally, she expects to one day move into a more competitive housing market. “I think I might want to buy a house, once work is stable. Have a yard. Not that I don’t love my house, because I do, I love my house. But I would love to have more of a piece of property, and have a yard, and have bonfires outside, and all of the things that I don’t have in my condo. To be able to have a fenced yard, so I can let my dog outside and not have to worry about the neighbors. I’d like to get some chickens, Stuff that you can’t have in the condo.” Her Habitat home has kept their family stable for over a decade and a half now though and it’s got its perks. “Just the fact that it’s mine, that’s huge. It’s absolutely huge. But my absolute favorite spot in my house is my little side yard. It’s my little piece of heaven. It’s a little tranquil piece of serenity… I’ve got some bamboo planted, I’ve got some lights that hang, and a nice little patio area. It’s just very relaxing to sit out there, and when I sit out there I can watch the sunset. I’ve got a great view of the sunset.”