Muncie Habitat recently celebrated Mary, a homeowner who recently paid off her 20-year no-interest mortgage. We wanted to celebrate this incredible achievement, but over the last 20 years, we lost contact with Mary. No phone – no email – all we had was her address – the address to the house that she made into her home.
When we knocked on her door a few months ago, Mary was getting ready to log-in to her remote job. She welcomed us inside, and was delighted to share her story with us.
At the time of her application, Mary was a single mother raising two children—Bud and Tina. Throughout her life, she had struggled to find affordable housing that was warm and dry. She hated raising her children in the same cold environment she grew up in. There were even times when she had to use the gas stove to heat her apartment because the furnace was not working. To make matters worse, Mary has arthritis in both her ankles, and many of the apartments she rented had numerous steps that caused her immense pain. It hurt Mary to come home.
After many years of feeling like things never worked out in her favor, it was hard for her to dream. When Mary learned about Habitat for Humanity, she was determined to give her family a better life, and she still had a glimmer of hope that good things would happen. After her application, she received a call from Habitat, and she prepared herself for the worst. But then, she learned she was accepted to partner with Habitat! She worked tirelessly for many months on her new home, and in May of 2002, she finally moved in. A dream come true!
We wanted to celebrate Mary’s dedication and persistence—and FINAL mortgage payment– with a Habitat world famous mortgage burning ceremony…. A way to symbolize permanence, finality, and the JOY that comes with homeownership. At the ceremony Mary, Tina, and Bud and his wife, all collectively shared stories and celebrated the home that helped each of them dream of a healthier future.
Mary shared how grateful she is that even though she is having health struggles—causing some financial burden– her house is paid off –providing much needed stability – she doesn’t have to worry about rent. She doesn’t have to worry about healing in a cold, unsafe apartment. She is home. Mary now has an asset that can be used to support her for years to come. Mary’s life and her kids’ lives were changed because 20 years ago, Dream Builders helped her achieve her dream.