When Danay moved from Cuba to Southwest Florida in 2003, her eyes were opened to a world of possibilities. Motivated by opportunity and a calling to serve others, she committed herself to education, pursuing her lifelong goal of becoming a nurse. Working full-time while attending school certainly posed challenges. Nevertheless, by 2011, she had completed her training and was a certified PRN nurse in Lee County.
A few years later, Danay gave birth to her daughter, Adele. “She came into this world as a strong, warrior angel with many challenges,” said Danay. A warrior she was, as complications during the pregnancy hindered Adele’s brain development resulting in a permanent disability. To this day, Adele uses a wheelchair, suffers from seizures, eats through a feeding tube, and cannot speak, but she continues to fight. Together, Danay and Adele work to build Adele’s physical strength, but it’s an uphill battle.
These circumstances would be difficult for any family. The emotional and financial strains associated with raising a special needs child can be overwhelming. But as a single mother, these difficulties are exacerbated for Danay. Especially, considering the median wage for nurses in Lee County is a meager $33,550.
Between Adele’s medical bills and Danay’s modest income, the family was in a constant state of financial instability. As doctors worked to find treatments for Adele, Danay plunged further and further into medical debt. To afford housing, she rented a small unit in Lehigh Acres, and while the rent was affordable, being nearly an hour away from emergency care was not a tenable situation.
May 5th, 2017 is a day that Danay will never forget.
That morning, Adele suffered an unusually bad seizure that required an ambulance, but the proximity of their rental house to emergency care meant a significant wait. On the way to the emergency room, Adele stopped breathing and slipped into a coma. For the next 45 days, Danay waited by her daughter’s side, hoping and praying to see her smiling face again. When Adele finally regained consciousness, Danay packed their things, emptied her savings, and rented an apartment near the hospital. It was small and expensive but necessary for her daughter’s health.
Through this all, Danay always dreamed that one day, her family would have a stable and affordable place to call home. With an affordable home, Danay would no longer be forced to choose between paying medical bills or rent. She needed peace of mind, financial stability, and the opportunity to build a better life—things that an affordable home could provide. The dream of owning a home hit the roadblocks caused by her financial situation. How could she save for a down payment? How could she avoid predatory credit-providers?
That’s when Danay decided to apply for the affordable homeownership program provided by Habitat for Humanity. In January 2019, she was accepted and began her journey to homeownership. It was a long process that included sweat equity hours, attending educational courses, paying $1,700 towards closing costs, and working with Habitat counselors to pay down her debts. Then on August 16th, 2019, just two years after Adele’s medical emergency, Danay signed the affordable mortgage to purchase her Habitat home. Now, Danay and Adele are thriving in a safe, affordable house that they call home.