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Our 49th Homeowner! – Natasha Speller

Just a few short weeks before she receives the keys to her new Habitat home on March 8th, Natasha Speller sits down to talk to us about her family and shares her story with the Dorchester Habitat for Humanity community.

Natasha’s experience with Habitat began when a friend, who was a current Habitat homeowner, told her about the program and how to get involved.

The friend, Ms. Denise, told Natasha to simply attend meeting at the Dorchester Habitat for Humanity center off Greyback Road in Summerville, SC. Right away Natasha decided to call habitat to ask how she could not only get involved but also asked how she one day could own a Habitat home of her own. After attending meetings Natasha began to volunteer her time. She did not have a job when she started volunteering but things shortly changed three months later.

Natasha got a job at iQor in North Charleston, and qualified to be a homeowner through the Habitat program. She says that is where her journey to getting a home of her own home started.

Natasha has been in the program for two years volunteering on seven other builds to give others homes, while also volunteering in the Dorchester Habitat office.

Natasha said, “Sometimes things got difficult but in the end everything was well worth it.” She told Habitat the program has helped to better her life in more ways than one, giving her hope for a brighter future.

Being a mother of four, Natasha has wanted nothing more than to own her own home and to give her children a good life in a safe home environment to grown in. Previously Natasha and her four children were living in an apartment but when an intruder broke in to their home. Natasha says, “I needed to find a safer place to raise my children.”

Currently Natasha and her children—Ja’Vonte (14), Toneyae (10), Natiava (7) and Tristeyn (3) are living with her parents. Their situation although tight is only temporary says Natasha, they make the best of their living situation and are happy to be together with family.  Keeping a positive attitude she knows that soon she will have a home to call her own, keeping in mind that all of her hard work, patience, and sacrifices will have paid off.

Natasha and her children are overwhelmed with excitement. Moving in to their new home, only five minutes from her parents home, should be an easy transition she says. They already have furniture for their new home waiting in storage. Natasha is so happy about the entire experience she and her family has had and plans to continue involvement with the Dorchester Habitat for Humanity, volunteering her time when and as much as she can. Natasha thanks the Dorchester Habitat for Humanity for everything that the program has done for her.

“I want to thank Habitat for giving me this opportunity. When I went in to volunteer for Habitat they made me feel like family right off the back. It is a wonderful program and everyone treats you well making everything well worth it.” Not only did she gain a home from Habitat, she gained a family.

Meet the Blewers-Women Build Recipients

Jenn Craig WallRaise“Lucky and blessed…”

“Surrounded by wonderful people…”

“Looking forward to helping others….”

These are all ways that Jennifer Blewer describes the circumstances that she and her husband Craig find themselves in today.  She has a joyful and contagious enthusiasm when she talks about her situation that is really amazing.

Frankly, from the outside looking in, one might think that the family is far from lucky.  The truth is that Jen and her husband have gone through some tough times in the last few years.  A blended family of seven, Jen and Craig live in an apartment with three of their four younger children.  When he was in his mid-twenties, her husband began having problems with his vision and was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.  The disease has taken its toll and has affected his health and balance, so that he is on disability.  Jen works part time at a local restaurant to pay the bills and their high school age son lives with his grandmother, so that the rest of the family will have more room in their apartment.

Good things began to happen last May.  Jen’s cousin Denise told them about an application meeting at Dorchester Habitat for Humanity.  They met Jaye (Dorchester Habitat’s director) and learned about the program.  The next step was to schedule a meeting right away with Carolyn at the Home Ownership Resource Center.  They attended workshops on financial planning to reduce debt and enjoyed meeting other home owners.  It took them just a couple of weeks to meet the program’s guidelines by attending workshops and meeting the financial criteria.  Once Jen and her husband saw that there was hope of actually owning their own home, they began to work like crazy to make that dream come true.

One day while she was working at Zaxby’s, Jen got a phone call from Mr. Bob, the Construction Supervisor for Habitat, with good news. Their family had been chosen to receive the next home scheduled to be built; The Women Build House for 2014!  The staff at Zaxby’s, their friends and church family, had all been praying for them and were SO excited that they would have a home they could call their own.

Now the real work of transformation would begin! Every new Habitat home owner has to put a certain number of hours of “sweat equity” into the construction of not only their own home, but also 60 hours on another home that is in the works. Jen and Craig have been volunteering every Thursday and Saturday with Jen’s work supervisor doing everything he can to accommodate her construction schedule.  Craig has to visit Hollings Cancer Center for infusions monthly, but he has been involved in home site construction and work at the ReStore at every opportunity.

Jen’ family will have one of the new homes on Weber Drive.  Construction began in May and the home should take 3-4 months to finish. They hope to be moving in by the end of August, just in time for her teens to begin new schools.

So what are they looking forward to the most?  All 4 children are thrilled at the prospect of having a front yard and a back yard of their very own.  Jen is looking forward to painting new rooms with the colors she loves, decorating and taking photos of her children that will hang on her very own walls.  The families’ new house payment AND utilities payment together, will be less than they are paying now in rent.

“I feel very blessed to have all the support that we have had.  My husband felt like he could make real contributions at Habitat’s ReStore when he couldn’t be at the work site and that was inspirational for him.  We have had a lot of volunteers who know us and who have also donated their work hours to us.  We will have had 425 volunteer hours total and are looking forward to every minute.  Caulking windows is my personal favorite home site job!  After you have been blessed, you want to help others get into their homes.  We are looking forward to sharing our experiences with homeowners who are following in our footsteps.”


ReNewed – Tyesha Swift

Dorchester Habitat for Humanity dedicated its first Recycled Habitat Home on Cutting the RibbonFriday, May 16th Tyesha Swift and her children moved from a run-down, unsafe, and crowded apartment into a beautiful Home. Tyesha’s children celebrated by running and playing in their big yard. This was a joy they could not experience in their apartment neighborhood. Tyesha and her family celebrated by singing and giving praise and feeding Tyesha’s new family – Dorchester Habitat for Humanity staff members, volunteers, and donors.

This home renovation was made possible by Thrivent Financial, who contributed $2,500 towards our costs and brought a team of volunteers to assist. Kellie Leigh-Collins was at the dedication representing Thrivent and gave the Cross signed by all the volunteers at the ceremony.

Tyesha worked diligently to earn her sweat-equity hours and improve her budgeting and financial skills. Tyesha will pay back to Dorchester Habitat for Humanity a mortgage over the next twenty-five years. Dorchester Habitat for Humanity is proud of Tyesha’s transformation and considers her to be a shining example of the Homeownership Program’s success. Recycling the Habitat Home was truly a transformative process – for a partner family and a Habitat Home. Thank you to Tyesha for fulfilling Dorchester Habitat for Humanity’s Mission of “Putting God’s Love Into Action By Bringing People Together Building Homes and Hope.”