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."