This Friday was a happy day for Nina Marie Cotto. After ending a busy week at school, the 10 year old rushed home to help her mother, Natalie, clean the house and prepare a big meal. When they were done Nina Marie took her little sister Bailey upstairs to their bedrooms where they washed and changed into clean clothes. The two girls then went outside onto their front porch to wait for company. Within an hour, their extended family arrived and they all sat down at the dining table to share a meal. It wasn’t Thanksgiving on the calendar, but gratitude and joy were certainly the spirits of the day!
There is nothing extraordinary about the above story, but just a few months ago, it would have been impossible. At that time, Natalie, Nina Marie and Bailey lived in a small, rundown apartment. They lacked the space they needed for any privacy and though Natalie did everything she could to keep her home clean, the pests that had infiltrated the rest of the building always seemed to find their way into her unit. The building in which they lived was in a rough neighborhood known by all to be a hotbed of crime and violence. The girls were always kept inside and Natalie was too embarrassed by the bugs, crime, and condition of her apartment to ever invite anyone over for dinner.
Everything changed when the Cottos were accepted into the Habitat CFC program. Natalie, her children and friends all joined with Habitat CFC staff and volunteers to help build her new home. Natalie was also required to attend classes to help her learn budgeting, home maintenance and other skills needed to be a successful homeowner. Though she is still working on her 500 hours of sweat equity, Natalie’s house was ready and she completed her Habitat home purchase last month – below cost, with no down payment and a zero interest mortgage. Since her housing now costs only 30% of her income, Natalie has begun to save, for the first time ever, for her children’s future.
Every family’s story is different, but the above is typically how this all works and has worked for the past 32 years with Habitat for Humanity of Coastal Fairfield County. Though I am proud to report that we recently completed our 210th new home, with a success rate that exceeds 95%, we have so much more to do to address the need.
A year from now, I expect to tell you about at least 14 additional families, living in new homes, like the Cottos, with bright futures that they deserve, but never thought possible. Habitat CFC can certainly make this happen, but only with your help. Please consider a contribution today.
Thank you, in advance, for your generosity and support.
Chief Executive Officer