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It’s mine to worry about

 

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Whitney Snider and her five year-old son, Ramon, in front of their new Habitat home. They moved into the house in the Abita Nursery community of Covington in August 2009.

   

Whitney Snider and her 5-year-old son, Ray, moved into a Habitat house in the Abita Nursery community of Covington, Louisiana, in August 2009. Snider used to drive 25 miles to get to her job as an office manager at a dentist’s office, which is only two miles from their new home.

Since moving here, Ray has been noticeably happier and more adventurous, said Snider, 29. Always afraid to play outside in their old community, Ray loves to ride his bike up and down the quiet street, spinning gravel as he goes.

Previously, the two lived in a 30-year-old mobile home that had a leaky roof and persistent mold. A stray cat once wandered in through a hole in the bathroom cabinet. When a pregnant Snider and her then-husband were preparing the nursery for Ray, one of the workers fell through a rotten place in the floor.

“It’s a big difference, owning rather than renting,” Snider said. “It’s a challenge staying on top of everything. But it’s mine to worry about.

“Ray’s always asking, ‘When are we going to move again?’ I always say, ‘Probably never!’ I’m probably going to get really old here.”

Habitat houses have changed this neighborhood dramatically, Snider said, from a hardscrabble area riddled with crime and drug problems to a quiet, safe community where everybody knows one another. The streets are named Progress and Success.

“When we first moved in, I noticed that the woman across the street had all these flowers and plants in pots,” Snider said, smiling. “So I took her a lot of extra pots that I had and asked her if she could use them. A few days later, she brought them back—with plants in them.”

Snider enjoys digging in the dirt herself, calling it her “me time.”

“If you have any stress, you just get outside and dig up something, and you feel better,” she said. “This summer I’m planning to put a fence in the backyard and put in a storm door on the front.”

After working Monday through Thursday at the dentist’s office, Snider cleans a few houses on Fridays to earn extra money.

Ray, meanwhile, says the best part of pre-K is the playground. He’s starting to learn phonics and loves to do artwork—anything but coloring books. He doesn’t like to stay in the lines.

“He’s a little sponge,” his mom said. “He absorbs everything. He’s doing really well. He has really come out of his shell here.”