A Story of Hope

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By Shekesha Robinson, Habitat Home-Buyer

Early 2017, I received a call from Megan Briggs, Director of Family Services for Habitat for Humanity that I was selected to be a partner family.  I was at work when I received the phone call. It was totally unexpected. I was so excited that I cried tears of joy. The first person that I wanted to call was my sister, Kenya to share the good news.  Then I realized that I couldn’t call her, my tears of joy turned into tears of sadness. I began to wonder how I was going to complete 200 hours of sweat equity when I was going through one of the most devastating times in my life.  I wanted to call my sister, I couldn’t call her as she was in a rehab recovering from a severe brain injury.

Kenya and I share everything. She is my confidant, my cheerleader, and best friend. We worked at the same job, lived across the street from each other for many years, and raised our kids together. We even share a birthday three years apart. She was diagnosed with cancer one year before I was accepted as a partner family. She was still was my biggest cheerleader despite what she was going through with her health.  She told me that I would get accepted as a partner family although I had my doubts. She would have been so excited to see this dream come into reality.

Kenya started her chemotherapy treatments without any issues.  We were all anticipating her beating cancer. One day she had a severe allergic reaction to one of her medications and went into cardiac arrest. The doctors told us to take her off of life support as she had suffered severe brain damage from lack of oxygen to her brain. She was in a coma, they told us she would never wake up, and if she did wake up, she would never walk, talk, or live a normal life. My family and I knew she was a fighter and we believed she would fully recover. We ignored their advice and kept her on life support.


When I received the phone call from Megan, it was bittersweet. I was blessed to have the opportunity of a lifetime, yet I was I was so sad because my sister was not there to share in this journey. I didn’t know if I would have the strength to fight alongside my sister, work a full time job, raise my children, and add 200 hours of sweat equity on top of all that. I knew my sister wouldn’t want me to miss out on this opportunity and I didn’t want to let my family down. I knew that I had to push forward.

I started my sweat equity hours in April of 2017. I met other families who were going through tough times. We all shared the common thread- we had an overwhelming desperation to succeed despite all the obstacles that life have thrown in our way. I began to find strength in watching these families work hard to succeed. I felt joy when I went on a construction site as I knew I was helping other families achieve their dream of owning a home. Completing my sweat equity hours gave me another reason to continue to fight for my family and my sister. When I went to the Restore, I connected with customers. I didn’t have time to focus on being sad. I even learned that I could be an inspiration to others after I spoke at a charity gala for Habitat for Humanity.

I am almost at the end of my sweat equity hours and it has been a year since my sister suffered a brain injury. She is awake from her coma, but she has a long road to fully recovering. My sister has been with me through this journey just in another way. I didn’t think I could do it. However, I had the support of other partner families, staff at Habitat for Humanity, my financial coach, Mary Metz, and my family. 

My home dedication is scheduled for August 17. It will be bittersweet because my sister won’t be there.  She would have been my biggest cheerleader.  I will continue to fight for my sister and I know one day we will enjoy my new home together.