The Day My First Walls Went Up by Tonya M

I’ve been trying to make a lot of changes in my life recently: I just lost 90 pounds; I’m working on moving up at my company, Amtrak, by going back to school to get my degree in Business Administration and Human Resources; I saved up to buy a reliable car; and now I am working to own my own home with Habitat for Humanity Chicago. And on May 11th, the day that we raised the first walls of my home, I saw all of my dreams coming together.


I wanted to move my six-year-old daughter and myself out of our apartment for the longest time. Kayli, my daughter, keeps growing up on me and we’ve just outgrown it. It just doesn’t give us what we need, but for the longest time I was scared to move us out. Becoming a first-time homeowner is a huge and scary step and, as a single parent, I didn’t want to take any risks or strain myself financially. When I first started looking for a good home, it was discouraging. I was looking at all of these houses that I wanted but couldn’t afford, and the houses that I could afford weren’t in great condition and needed a lot of work.


Then I heard about the Habitat opportunity and applied and got accepted and I just felt like the stars were aligning. I had been trying for so, so long to find us a home that truly would be ours. A home that would give us space to have family over, space to just be happy. And now we would have it!!


It’s been a crazy journey full of ups and downs and a lot of fear, but on May 11th when my family, my friends, and the volunteers from The House that Tech Built helped me raise the first-story walls of my home, I saw it all coming together—I saw my DREAM coming together right before my eyes.


We worked all morning on my home and Aphriditie’s home (my future neighbor). Then around 11 AM, everyone on the build site lined up on the first floor of my home to literally raise the first-story walls of my house. All I could think about was how happy and excited and grateful I was (and how heavy those walls were, even with 20 people lifting them).


May 11th also happens to be my birthday (if anyone asks, it was my 21st…) and at lunchtime, all of the volunteers and my family and friends celebrated with me by singing Happy Birthday, giving me a birthday card, and sharing cake. It felt AWESOME! It was very special for me, I actually had to hold in my tears. It felt so good that so many people would do something so kind for me and my daughter. It was a birthday I will never, ever forget. There's no better birthday present than the walls to a new home.


At the end of the day, I couldn't believe I was looking up at my HOUSE. Just a few months earlier the lot was completely empty and now, thanks to so many loving people, it is turning into the place where Kayli will grow up, where she'll do her math homework, where she and her Grandma will work on all of their special art projects. I want to give Kayli the world, give her everything she needs to soar -- our new house is going to allow her to soar and I am so crazy proud of it. 


I still can’t believe that all of these tech companies are doing this for me and my daughter. I'm not sure what we did to deserve this. From the bottom of my heart, what I really want to say is: THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! MY DAUGHTER AND I CAN'T THANK YOU ENOUGH! WE APPRECIATE EVERY HOUR AND EVERY CENT YOU HAVE GIVEN TO HELP US BUY OUR BRAND NEW HOME!!!! THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU SO MUCH!



Sign up for our newsletter for the latest news and opportunities to get involved!