A New Homeowner's Journey of Faith

"Hello, neighbor! Give me a hug!"

These were Donna Johnson's first words upon meeting her future next-door neighbor. The women introduced themselves and chatted over the clatter of hammers, trucks and power tools at the Fairway Oaks build site in Jacksonville. They discovered Donna's nephew and her neighbor's son are not far apart in age, so the families are certain to see each other frequently.

Donna wasn't always able to have her children live with her. She was divorced, and her children went to live with their father because of Donna's drug addiction. Donna hit a low point in February 1991, when she sat on her mother's driveway, looked out at the freeway, and contemplated suicide. Looking to God for help, she said she would do three things if he would deliver her from drugs: She would serve him the best she knew how; she would be the best mother she could be; and she would be a friend to all and treat everyone she met with love.

On Feb. 21, 1991, she checked into a rehabilitation center and started over. She cleaned up, got an apartment and started working. Her kids came back, and her daughter urged her to apply for a Habitat house three years ago. But Donna just didn't feel ready, even though one of her biggest desires was to provide her children with a home. She told her daughter, "When the Lord tells me to, I will."

He did, and she was approved late last winter.

"One of the most exciting moments of my life, other than getting off drugs, was finding out I would be a Habitat homeowner," she says.

Now, she's ready to make good on her promise to God. She's committed to her children, and she has words of hope for anyone going through a hard time. As she looks at her house going up before her eyes, she wishes she'd brought a camera but knows she won't forget a single detail.

"I might lose the pictures from the camera, but in my mind and heart, I'll never lose the pictures of this progress."

-- Rebekah Graydon

More JCWP Updates Today

N.Y.: Baynes Family To Become Habitat's 100,000th Homeowners
Ga.: Sumter County Declares Victory over Substandard Housing
Plus: JCWP 2001 Heads to Korea

Full Index of JCWP 2000 Stories

Volunteer Opportunity Is A Gift, Says Actress Sarandon
Brooklyn Mother Comes "Full Circle"
Habitat's Work Mirrors Harlem's Overall Rejuvenation
Baynes Family To Become Habitat's 100,000th Homeowners
New York City Volunteers Build on Faith
Ga.: Carters Swing Hammers In Their Hometown
Volunteer Has Long History of Habitat Service
Vera Thomas Thankful for "Victory House"
Sumter County Declares Victory over Substandard Housing
Carters Help Reach Milestones in Home County
Fla.: Diverse Volunteers Make JCWP Possible
Carter Builds in Jacksonville
Top 5 Things I Learned in Jacksonville
A New Homeowner's Journey of Faith
100 Houses Creating New Neighborhood
Plus: The Hughleys Celebrate Their New House, Habitat's 100,001st
Past JCWP Homeowners Now JCWP Volunteers
Building On Faith Week Underway Worldwide
JCWP 2001 Heads to Korea
Remember When? JCWP 1984 in N.Y.C.
More About JCWP 2000

JCWP 2000 Sponsors

JCWP Overviews

2001 -- Korea
2000 -- N.Y., Fla., Ga.
1999 -- Philippines
1998 -- Houston, Texas
1997 -- Kentucky/Tennessee
1984-96 -- Photo History

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