On March 16th, 2020, Habitat for Humanity of Lee and Hendry Counties closed due to COVID-19. Then, exactly one year later, we hosted our first Home Dedication since the pandemic began.
“It’s amazing how God can use your struggles to align with your blessings,” Kiara said as she shared her story of hard work, faith, and perseverance. “To me, this home means security and stability. This is what being hopeful looks like…”
In 2016 – the year before she reached out to Habitat – Kiara felt like her life was falling apart. Her car was acting up, and money was already tight. She reached a point where paying her rent meant that her children might not eat. Some nights, she even went without, just so they could have enough.
Then, one month before the lease was up, she was evicted from her apartment. As a single mom of three kids and with another baby on the way, she had no choice but to move back in with her own mother. With her family and her mom, plus, her sister’s family, all together there were eleven people in the house.
Although Kiara had been struggling with depression for more than a year, the pregnancy, the lack of personal space and the debt started to add up. Kiara felt that she was running out of hope.
In 2017, wanting to dig herself out of the hole she was sinking into, Kiara turned to Habitat. Due to her debts, things didn’t turn out exactly as planned, but Kiara felt the spark of hope beginning to build inside of her. With a little guidance from her housing counselor, Kiara knew what she would have to do; take a test at work to get an income boost, use the next year’s tax return to pay off her debt, and then try again.
Then her grandfather became ill, and after spending some time in the hospital, he passed away. “He was the best man I’ve ever known,” Kiara says. “So, to go through that while going through depression…and pregnant – it took a toll.”
At her lowest, Kiara confided in a friend. “I’m tired,” she told her in a text message. “What do you mean,” her friend responded. “I’m tired,” Kiara said again.
“It took a few years for me to get out of that,” Kiara says regarding her depression. “I remember being at my mom’s house and I was bawling my eyes out, because I felt like I was failing my children.”
Kiara had some idea of what her children might be experiencing through all of this, because she also grew up in a home with a single parent. As a child, she felt many of the same struggles that now her own children have endured. “I don’t think people realize how their emotional state and wellbeing reflects on their children,” she says. For her kids, she wanted better.
So, Kiara decided to get support. In addition to seeing a counselor, she began leaning into her faith. “Struggling with my depression and being a good spirit… I prayed for that as much as I needed to – until I got to how I wanted to feel.” She even got baptized, at which point, the church asked her to share her story. So, she did.
While she was telling her story, a friend said there was a man in the crowd crying so much, that people had to hold him up. “And then afterwards,” Kiara says, “this guy walked up to me and said, ‘thank you for sharing that. I was in that dark place too.’”
Experiences like this, being in that environment, and knowing that she had a community of people who were praying for her and encouraging her, helped Kiara heal. She says that her foundation as a person is built on prayer, and in the end, rebuilding her faith is what got her through. Faith and her vision for the future.
“I had to picture myself where I wanted to be and I had to remind myself of that every day,” Kiara says. It took longer than planned, but that vision helped her get out of bed each day, it inspired her to take the test that would give her a much–needed income boost, and it gave her the push she needed to use her tax return to pay off her debt in full.
Her faith tells her that every struggle she’s been through has prepared her for this. Kiara says that making sacrifices as she’s worked towards her Habitat home, like cutting back on cable, not getting her hair or nails done, changing her children’s childcare – it was easy. “It was so easy, because I had gone without so much more,” she says. It doesn’t make what she’s been through “worth it,” but for her, now everything makes sense. “It’s amazing how God can use your struggles to align with your blessings.”
Now, Kiara can’t wait to build the future with her children. “Having my own home – it’s a different type of security. Just having that peace and knowing that I won’t have to find somewhere to live, I won’t have to go on Craigslist, and my children will have a home. That’s it for me.”
Now that she’s made this major accomplishment, Kiara says that what she’s most looking forward to is changing the narrative for her kids – giving them a real home, exposing them to more positive experiences, and making them proud.
“For everyone who had a hand in making this possible, for the experience and everything I’ve learned, my children and I thank you. I hope you all know you do more than build and provide homes. You help give hope.” – Kiara