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Nothing like coming home to your own place

In 2005, Eddie and Celethia Edwards were raising four children in an overpriced, run-down three-bedroom apartment in their native Beaumont, Texas.

 

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Since April 2007, Eddie and Celethia Edwards and their four children have been living in their new Habitat house in Beaumont, Texas.

“The electrical wiring was so bad, sometimes the outlets would smoke,” Eddie said. “It was not a safe place for a family.”

When Hurricane Rita struck, the dangerous situation turned dire. When they came home after evacuating, the family found the ceiling collapsed in the girls’ room.

“It would have cost the landlord more to fix it up than it was worth,” Celethia said. “We had to move out, because she didn’t have the money to fix it. One child has asthma, so the mold was a big risk. We couldn’t stay there.”

The family went to live with Celethia’s mother, who had taken in eight other people after the hurricane.

“It was a very small house, with only one bathroom,” Celethia said, shaking her head at the memory. “It was crowded. Very crowded.”

Eddie has worked for years as a maintenance worker, and Celethia has clerked at a video store and braided hair to supplement the family income. But the rental market in Beaumont—brutal before Hurricane Rita—was now completely out of reach for the hard-working family.

Neither Eddie nor Celethia had ever thought about homeownership. But after doing some research, they pursued a partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Jefferson County. Once approved, they started putting in their sweat-equity hours and planning for the big move into their own home.

“My mother passed away before we moved,” Celethia said. “But we had already gotten the news that we had been accepted. She was so excited—you would have thought she was moving into a new home. She was so happy for us.”

Since April 2007, this four-bedroom house with a brick facade has been home.

“There is nothing like coming home to your own place,” Celethia said.

The Edwards family lives on a street transformed by Habitat for Humanity of Jefferson County from vacant lots into a neighborhood.

“Everybody looks out for one another,” Celethia said. “If anybody sees anything that doesn’t look right, they’ll let you know. They’ll say, ‘Somebody came by your house today in a brown car …’ ”

This house has given everyone in the family a lot more room to dream.

Celethia wants to go to school to learn interior decorating or culinary arts. Oldest daughter Michel-la, 15, is a track star at middle school and dreams of bigger and bigger gold medals, while 13-year-old Eddie Jr., a voracious reader, is already working on the great American novel. (An asthmatic, Eddie Jr. has not had to use his inhaler since moving into the house.) Sabrail, 11, is a science whiz and a cheerleader who intends to be “a business lady” when she grows up; and 6-year-old Timothy wants to be a football player.

The newest addition to the family—4-year-old Jeremiah—shares his brother Timothy’s passion for football and other sports.

Even Eddie Sr., a self-professed fanatic for all things fish-related—he already has installed three huge aquariums full of colorful fish—harbors a dream for the family’s new home.

“I told my wife, when we get finished paying for the house, I want to put a big old fish tank right in the wall,” he said, pointing to the ideal spot.

The whole family collapsed in laughter, as Celethia said simply, “We’ll see.”