“The world would be so much better if we all would just take care of one another, and you folks have taken care of me.” That’s what Alesia Cannady has to say about the repairs Habitat for Humanity SKKC volunteers completed on her Skyway home last year.
Alesia practices what she preaches. She is the founder and Executive Director of Women United Seattle, a group that supports grandmothers who are raising their grandchildren. The organization’s multiple programs reflect Alesia’s creative approach to helping others. Alesia started her work nearly 30 years ago when she discovered a neighbor in need: a mother of two recently abandoned by her husband. “She didn’t have anything,” Alesia recalls, “so I took my boys’ bunk beds to her, an extra mattress I had, so she’d have a bed, and a little TV, so her kids would have something to do.” That was what she calls her first ‘woman in crisis,’ and the ad-hoc beginning of Women United Seattle.
At first, she used her own money to help women pay rent in emergencies. She took in and raised her sister’s newborn daughter and seven-year-old sister. From that experience she learned the challenges of single parenting for a second time after raising her two sons. When her youngest son and his drug addicted girlfriend got pregnant, Alesia was called upon again to raise a child, her granddaughter,Aleiyah. “That opened a door for me,” says Alesia, “though I didn’t realize it at the time.” Aleiyah became the inspiration for the Angel of Hope Engagement Center, hosted in Alesia’s home, where grandmothers now come for personal, and spiritual support, programs and events. Alesia continues to expand the program with help from King County, Seattle Foundation, Champions of change and generous donors.
When a friend learned that Alesia’s railings and entrance were unsafe for the mobility-impaired women visiting the Engagement Center, she contacted Habitat, and, “They called me right away,” Alesia says with glee. She is delighted at the quality of the improvements Habitat volunteers made to her front and back entrances and the access areas up to a gathering cottage in her backyard. Of course, she befriended the volunteers. “They smelled the catfish I was cooking one day and came inside to share it. After that they came back to help me set up the Winter Wonderland event in my backyard … and they stayed.” She now claims those Habitat volunteers as part of her family.
The repairs Habitat made to Alesia’s house were finished quickly and, she adds, the volunteers took extra care to assure the paint matched her house, so the entry is beautiful as well as strong. The work Habitat did on Alesia Cannady’s home isn’t confined to that place. The benefits will radiate throughout her community as her work impacts multiple families. “We must keep sharing our knowledge with others who’ll be caregivers, even after our grandchildren are grown, so there will always be people here to help one another.” To learn more about Habitat SKKC’s Repairs program or if you know someone who is in need of critical home repairs, please visit: http://www.habitatskc.org/what-we-do/home-repairs/