Walking into their new Habitat home for the first time, Sameisha and her children excitedly make their way from room to room. “This is going to be my room,” says Maya, Sameisha’s oldest daughter. “And this is where the bed will go.”
“This is going to me my room,” Sameisha’s youngest daughter calls, mimicking her older sister’s gestures. Then the kids all head outside to play – running, jumping and doing cartwheels – in their very own back yard.
“I’m still just so blown away. We have been counting down to this closing date,” Sameisha says as she recalls the last 13 years of her life and everything she went through to get to where she is today.
Of course, growing up, Sameisha never would have imagined that at 18-years-old, she’d be a first-time mom, single, and homeless too. Yet, there she was, spending her first tearful night under the care of the Salvation Army.
Stability had long been a stranger in Sameisha’s life. With divorced parents, she often jumped back and forth from one household to another. Without a good example to follow, she struggled to know what stability looked like, and she certainly didn’t know how to create it on her own at such a young age.
Fortunately, with the Salvation Army on her side, Sameisha was able to land a job, secure an apartment and obtain her GED. It was great progress, but stability was still a long way off.
Over the years, Sameisha struggled to hold down a steady job, a stable home, and a lasting relationship. She was young, rebellious, and uninterested in support from her family. Then, several jobs, a few relationships, and two additional kids later, Sameisha found herself feeling more broken than ever.
Worst of all, home was never a safe place for Sameisha or her children. In one rental, Sameisha recalls that random people would knock on the doors at night, bounty hunters would show up looking for previous tenants, and necessary repairs were never made. In another rental, two attempted break-ins happened while Sameisha and her children were at home. Once, they even had to get the police involved following a successful break-in.
“One night, I went to bed, and something just kept telling me to lock myself in the bedroom with my kids,” she says. “I even pushed the dresser up against the door. I don’t know why I did it. But then in the middle of the night I started to hear noises, like a door slamming open. And then I started to hear footsteps in my living room.”
Following that terrifying night, Sameisha knew that something had to change.
Reluctantly, she turned to her family for support. From then on, Sameisha and the kids would pack a bag each night and sleep over at her sister’s house. This is when things started to change. “My sister started praying for me and then with me,” she says. “She introduced me to people through the church and helped me get involved. More and more I felt I wanted to know God.”
As Sameisha’s mindset began to shift, she realized that she wanted to give her children the safe and stable home they deserved, so she applied for a steady job with the post office, started paying down debts, and applied for homeownership through Habitat.
Through her partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Lee and Hendry Counties, Sameisha saved money for her down payment, completed 300 hours of sweat equity, and attended home maintenance and financial literacy classes. She was patient, she worked hard, and every day she prayed. “In the beginning, it was really hard,” she says. “I felt like quitting, but I just kept telling myself ‘I have to keep fighting.’ I just kept praying and asking God to keep shifting me daily.”
With help from Habitat and by the grace of God, just one week before Christmas, Sameisha was signing her closing documents and moving into her home.
“We’ve just been excited,” Sameisha says. “And you know, just being around the holidays – we’re grateful – grateful to be here, and for everyone at Habitat and how much they’ve helped.”
Looking forward, Sameisha is excited to make new memories with her children in a home that’s their own. She feels more confident than ever that she is setting an example for them and teaching them that anything is possible. “It doesn’t have to just be a dream,” she says. “It can become your reality. It’s just a matter of how bad you want the change.”
In their new home, Sameisha’s children can sleep safely in their own beds at night. They’ll be able to play outside, explore the neighborhood, and make new friends. Most importantly, Sameisha has given herself and her children something they’ve never known: the stability of a home.