Dorchester Habitat Welcomes Newest Homeowner!
Rezinda White’s Story; Talking the Talk? You had Better be Walking the Walk!
You have to walk the walk if you are going to talk the talk.
If we want to set a good example as parents and stand on principals instead of taking the easy way out, this is an absolute truth. Rezinda White walks the walk and has done so throughout a life of challenges. Proof of this is apparent in her amazing work history and the legacy she leaves in her children.
It all began where Rezinda was raised in Cottageville. Her grandparents owned 100 acres and her grandmother and her mother were the first female loggers in South Carolina. They gave estimates to area landowners to buy their timber and took it to area mills. When she wasn’t busy wielding her chainsaw and setting a good example for her three daughters, her mother was driving the school bus. Unfortunately, Rezinda’s father became increasingly abusive to his wife and daughters and her mother had to end her marriage and get a new start. She quit logging and started painting homes…this is where Rezinda learned one of her first skills: master woodwork and wall painter!
Her life of unique careers continued when she turned 16 and became a school bus driver. Back then, they would hire teens to drive busses…an unbelievable idea now, considering the huge responsibility involved in maneuvering a 3 ton vehicle bearing priceless (but distracting) children through traffic and other obstacles. Disruptive youngsters who stood on seats to cause trouble found themselves hanging on for dear life when Rezinda hit the brakes to keep her passengers in order.
After graduating from high school in Walterboro, Rezinda worked at bakeries in the Piggly Wiggly in Summerville and the K-Mart on Rivers Avenue. It was here that Rezinda began what would be a lifelong career as a talented cake decorator. She had her first son Brad and met a handsome navy ensign who would sweep her off her feet and off to Florida as a navy wife. While her husband Joe was out on ships for three months at a time, Rezinda went to work at Kroger…again in the bakery. Her second son P.J. was born in the hospital…but just barely…she was whisked out of the taxi and in the hospital hallway where out he came!
Rezinda and Joe were married for about 4 years and their third son Justin was born after they moved back to South Carolina. When she and her husband separated, she moved to Summerville with her three sons for a new start.
The challenge was that they were really starting from scratch; living in a mobile home with just a bed and a TV, they met a ministry team from Riverbend Baptist Church. The church also had a mobile home in the park set up to support families and get children involved in community outreach. They invited Rezinda and her family into the fold and eventually Rezinda earned a job as the church secretary and later became the director of their daycare for three years. This experience with early childhood development gave Rezinda an idea…why not open her own after school program as a 501-C3 classroom? She teamed up with a landlord who had a building with 4 apartments, got school donations and wrote grants. As a result her ‘Good News’ after school program opened for four and five year olds.
Over the next 10 years, Rezinda set up several after school programs with churches and schools. She combined earnings from these programs with income from working at grocery stores and for several years also had her own bakery. Some days she would drive from Ladson in the early morning to work in a grocery store bakery in Mt. Pleasant and rush back to North Charleston to welcome students to her after school program by 3:00.
Rezinda’s creative solutions for providing a living and quality of life for her family proved successful. Her sons have grown up to be amazing young men. Could it be that the artistry that she has shown creating cakes for every occasion has been transferred to her sons in different ways?
Here is the irony… Her oldest son Brad has moved to Australia and is a video game designer with a successful studio. Her youngest son Justin is an IT expert. Rezinda is still learning how to use her GPS…she prefers to get good directions written down on paper the old fashioned way! Her son P.J. is an entrepreneur with a window tinting business. Some of the best payback from her sons? Two adorable grandchildren! What did she do as a parent to get such great results? When asked that question she says “I never let them go to people’s houses that I didn’t know.” The whole family was also very affected by the Christian love and the relationships they shared at Riverbend Baptist Church during some tough times.
By 2015, Rezinda’s sons were independent young men on different roads to success, but she had not settled down in a home of her own. She was bouncing around from apartment to apartment when her son Justin invited her to move in with him while they created a strategy to find her a home of her own. One day she was watching TV and saw a commercial for Dorchester Habitat for Humanity. Her investigation led to her being accepted into their homeownership program and the beginning of a two year process. Rezinda has been through a five session program to get her finances in order, to repair her credit rating and to save enough money in the bank for her down payment, closing costs and also save an emergency fund.
In November, Rezinda got a call saying funding was secured for her home and she and Justin jumped for joy! She has been painting houses all her life, so has really enjoyed her volunteer time applying her paint brush talents on the Habitat houses built in recent months with her neighbors Valorie, Latasha and Shirley.
Rezinda cut the ribbon to her new home on Saturday, May 20th alongside her family and sponsor Duncan- Parnell. She is looking forward to finally having a home of her own and a place for those grandchildren to come and play. She is still baking and after more than 30 years with her reputation as ‘the cake lady’, retirement is not an option. If you want to be inspired, take some time to volunteer on this home build on a Habitat Home. Meet the team of faithful volunteers, many of whom show up every Saturday just because they are servant leaders and ask yourself…are you walking the walk?