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Habitat helps Cape mom realize dream of home ownership

By Staff | Jun 22, 2010

Leshaun Harrison stood in the kitchen of her new home Tuesday, holding her four-month-old daughter Amiah while smiling from ear to ear, thankful to be a homeowner.
“It was a struggle but I did it,” she said. “I wasn’t going to give up.”
Habitat for Humanity of Lee and Hendry counties teamed up with Winn Dixie and Kellogg’s to help rehabilitate the home on Northwest Juanita Court.
Harrison contributed more than 250 hours of her own hard work rehabilitating the property.
She also completed all the necessary training classes through Habitat for Humanity that taught her the necessary skills of being a full time homeowner.
“The program is a blessing,” she added.
Known for building new homes from he ground up, Habitat for Humanity President and CEO Kitty Green said the organization is now looking into rehabilitating existing homes.
She said all applicants have to go through a rigorous process – including volunteer work and the aforementioned classes – before the key are finally handed over.
But all new homeowners aren’t simply handed a house free and clear, they have to be willing to work, and pay, for their dreams to come true.
“Our mission is to provide housing to low-income families … but it doesn’t say we have to to build them,” Green said. “And the families need to have an ability to pay, and a willingness to partner with Habitat for Humanity.”
Green said applicants have a year to complete all the class and volunteer work.
Classes focus on all aspects of owning a home, including budgeting and maintenance, among others.
Green added, “We’re not a charity, we’re helping, but people are earning this. It’s a big commitment.”
Harrison and her two children, Amiah and son Keondre, 3, also received a $200 gift card from Winn Dixie to help fill their new refrigerator with food.
Harrison said it was difficult balancing family, work, and school during her time in the Habitat for Humanity programs.
At one point she thought she couldn’t make it, but eventually made it over the hump. Now she praises the program for giving her family a chance at owning their own home.
“If you’re not a homeowner, go to Habitat for Humanity. This is the best program ever,” she said.