By Chris Simones
Christie Jones looked out at the backyard of her brand new home through her kitchen window. The large yard had recently been seeded and the straw reflected splotches of golden sunlight falling from a cloudless summer sky.
“I think this is what the kids are most excited about,” said Jones, tilting her head toward the yard. “They’re going to have a swing set and a trampoline. They’re actually going to get to go outside and play.”
Christie and her four children are the most recent recipients of a Habitat for Humanity home in Warren County. Habitat for Humanity is a global nonprofit housing organization working in local communities across America and more than 70 countries around the world.
Habitat homeowners put in hundreds of hours of their own labor alongside volunteers on their own homes and other Habitat homes and pay an affordable mortgage.
Jones and her children currently live in an apartment. “We don’t even go outside where we live now. There’s always something weird going on or somebody sketchy walking around. The kids had bikes but they were all stolen. We’re so excited to finally have our own yard,” Christie said smiling.
Her application for a Habitat home was denied on her first try. One stipulation for qualifying for a Habitat home is good credit and Jones had outstanding debt.
“Among a few other things, a decent credit history is a requirement for qualifying for a Habit for Humanity home,” said Habitat chair of Church Relations Committee Todd Herzog.
“I had a lot of medical bills, about $10,000 worth.” Jones explained. “After I got denied I didn’t get discouraged. I started working on paying off all the bills. I was determined to do it in a year so I could reapply. So I did. I started with my income tax return and kept going from there.”
Jones reapplied and the process started all over. “I had two interviews. One of them is an in-home interview and it can be pretty intense because you want it so badly,” she said.
The phone call Jones had been hoping for came in June of 2019. Diane Stanley, head of the Habitat Family Selection Committee called Christie personally to tell her she’d been selected to receive a home.
“After I reapplied I started calling Diane all the time and bugging her,” Jones laughed. “I was trying not to be annoying but I didn’t want to be forgotten either.”
Stanley called Jones this February and told her there was a lot they’d like her to look at. If she liked it, everything was in place to move forward with building the home.
Jones loved it. “This will be the first time we’ve lived outside the city limits,” she said. “It feels so nice to be in the country.”
March 7 of this year was the first build day for Jones’ new home and there were plenty of people pitching in.
“The entire high school football team was here. There were people from Bridgestone. Just lots of volunteers,” Jones said happily. “I couldn’t believe it. I mean, the place actually looked like a home after the very first day!”
Unfortunately, the pandemic struck soon thereafter and slowed progress tremendously.
“Because of the virus we had to excuse all volunteers,” Herzog said. “A lot of the board members had to get much more involved than they usually do. Norma and Neil Cox were here every Saturday all day long. So was Larry Smith.”
A few minor touches are all the home requires now.
“I’ve been packing for a while now and trying to get the kids to help,” Jones said laughing. “We’re not going to rush too much, though. I work for the school system and I have four kids so just that can be overwhelming sometimes. We’ll probably start moving things next weekend.”
The entire Jones family is eager to make the upcoming move. “The kids are already fighting over who gets which room. They’re so excited that they get to pick what color the walls will be. My youngest is 8 years old and she’s determined to paint hers with unicorns and sparkles,” Jones laughed.
Jones looked out the kitchen window again and smiled.
“The kids are so happy. They’re so excited to have a yard and that they get to go outside and play,” she said.