Christie smiles proudly as she stands in the doorway of her newly built home at Prospect Avenue in Fort Myers.
In the Tice area of the City of Fort Myers, a 29-home neighborhood dedicated to providing safe, stable and affordable housing for families is coming to life. That neighborhood is Prospect Avenue, and on Tuesday, June 27, we celebrated the first family who will call the Habitat neighborhood home through a home dedication ceremony.
Habitat staff, sponsors, volunteers, donors, and community leaders gathered outside Christie’s newly built home to celebrate her journey to homeownership. That journey included 300 hours of sweat equity building her home and her neighbors’ homes, attending more than 20 hours of homeownership education classes, and saving $2,000 to pay toward closing costs. On top of that, she continued to work full-time while also being a single mother to six children—four of whom will live in her new home.
“I work hard day and night to provide for my family,” Christie shared when she first came to Habitat. “A chance [to purchase an affordable home] will take a load off and make it a lot easier for my children to succeed, have a better future, and hopefully see the positive side of the community that is surrounding them—which will encourage them to want to go out and be a light unto others.”
Christie is looking forward to a home her family can grow into. They have lived in a two-bedroom apartment for five years, with her three oldest children sharing a room with a triple bunk bed. Now, she is purchasing a four-bedroom, two-bathroom home with over 1,400 square feet of living space.
“I stand before you today filled with immense gratitude and joy,” Christie shared during the dedication. “Words cannot express how thankful I am for those who came together to make this dream a reality.”
Coca-Cola Beverages Florida (Coke Florida) generously sponsored the home, and their staff volunteered 240 hours to help build it. Jack Palmorn, the Coca-Cola Territory General Manager for Fort Myers, also attended the ceremony and presented Christie with a symbolic key representing her achievement and Coke bottles for each family member customized with their names.
“Being a part of Coke Florida, the idea was not to just go throw money at something,” Palmorn said. “It was to be a part of it. And being on the ground level, being a part of your community means showing up. It means being active. It means grabbing a hammer, grabbing nails.”
While Christie has completed her partnership requirements with Habitat and signed her closing documents, she plans to inspire and help others do the same.
“I promise to give back to society by volunteering my time and resources to ensure that more walls are raised, more families are helped, and more dreams are realized,” Christie said. “May we continue to work together to build a world where everyone has a decent place to call home.”