Annette's Story

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By Marianne Lynch, Executive Director

Last week, as I was doing one of the many small tasks to get ready for our Holiday Open House, I was able to spend some time with Annette, our newest partner and soon-to-be-owner of 130 Wayne Avenue in Norristown.  When working alongside a family, we get to know their story and how they came to learn of Habitat. Each story is remarkable and unique, but Annette’s story stopped me in my tracks and made me realize once again what a true blessing the stability of a home can be to a family in need.

Annette and I compared notes about how this time of year is so special for children – their excited faces at seeing the presents under the tree, the glittering energy of twinkling lights and all the magic that this season brings. For Annette though, this Christmas is one that is truly bittersweet. She has two beautiful children excited to see the holiday. They can’t wait to see what Santa brings and look forward to spending time as a family.  At the same time her family is also mourning the loss of their youngest member - a three-month old baby who died suddenly of SIDS in September. As we talk, she remarks that life was supposed to be very different at this time of the year with two children and a new baby experiencing the holidays for the first time. The grief is palatable as speaks about the loss of her child, but Annette does not shy away from it, knowing that out of her profound grief will come something good.

When her son passed away this past September, she realized the urgent need to have her other children know the stability of a permanent home.  Following a path that included support from Laurel House, the Housing Counselors at Your Way Home Montgomery County, and the Montgomery County Office of Children and Youth, Annette was able to eventually find her way to Habitat and has successfully moved through our program on the way to homeownership. Even when life has been so incredibly challenging, Annette knows that a home will change the story for her children. They will have the security of four walls and a roof to understand and deal with the loss of their brother, the knowledge that when they return home from school it will be the same place each day, and the physical comfort of this safe place as they console each other moving through the stages of their grief.

Even though the sorrow is still so very fresh, Annette has been working with Habitat since November to achieve her 200 hours of sweat equity, both constructing the home and helping in our offices. When she isn’t here with Habitat, she is working at a pizza shop and taking care of her kids who are still so fragile from the loss. The sweat equity has been a blessing for her, allowing her to focus on her future and have support from the wonderful Habitat community at the same time.

The loss of her son is one of many difficult experiences that Annette has struggled with in her life, including homelessness and domestic violence. What I think is profound about Annette is her resilience through these difficult times. She has a million dollar smile, an incredibly friendly and sweet demeanor, and a determination that astounds me. Although she has struggled, she has never given up on herself and she has always believed that things will get better. She has been a true inspiration to each of us who have had the pleasure to meet her.

In May, when the earth is being reborn, we will welcome Annette and her family to their place of rebirth, 130 Wayne Avenue. Until then, our energy and prayers are concentrated on her and her children while we prepare them for an optimistic future.

If you would like to help ready Annette’s home for her and her family, Habitat would love for you to volunteer. In fact, Women Build, our annual fundraiser to help support the building of this home, will be held January 27 through January 30. For more information, contact cara@habitatmontco.org or go to our website at www.Habitatmontco.org.