The nomadic lifestyle of growing up with parents in the military, and no real sense of “home,” seems to have followed Calesha into adulthood as a mom of two daughters.
After a job transfer from Ohio to Tampa, she got hurt and had to depend on a short-term disability of half her income until she could work again. Then, her rent DOUBLED, and she didn’t know what to do.
What she did was move her girls to Orlando at a friend’s invitation, quickly realizing the friend did not own the home but was sharing with multiple people who didn’t want Calesha and her daughters there.
In August 2022, the car became their home, with just a sporadic night in a hotel.
Thankfully, a teacher referred them to a church, which referred them to a shelter. They at last had a room, hot meals, and support. Calesha worked onsite and received training to help her get back into the workforce, which she did! She now works hard in internet technical support and is thrilled to do so!
Calesha applied to Habitat. She was denied at first, as she hadn’t been in her job long enough; but a fire started in her to buy a house and break a “generational curse” of moving often and renting. She and her girls agreed to “do this as a family,” save money, and live in the shelter until they could buy their own home.
When Calesha reapplied to us, she was accepted.
Their Habitat journey has truly been a family project. Her daughters have earned sweat equity hours by volunteering at the shelter and their grades are better than ever. Recently, they were excited to help choose the lot and colors for their future home. “It’s not really me doing it,” Calesha says. “It’s we!”
When the family learned theirs would be a Women Build 2024 home, they were thrilled. The fact that groups of women will raise money for and construct their home is a great model for the girls; and mom can’t wait to work alongside the teams.
Talk about women supporting women.
With the support and all Calesha is learning about maintaining a house and managing finances, she is more than grateful for the opportunity. “It’s a hand up. It’s hard work,” she says. “You will work harder than you thought. Just don’t give up. It’s worth it!”