'It's important to be a part of a community'
“The situation we’re in now is really affecting her concentration,” he says.
The chance for Elza’s daughter to realize her education goals is a major benefit of the new house on Buss Street. But the Williams family will also have access to another precious commodity when they move in: a sense of community, the absence of which has been a problem for many residents of Benton Harbor.
As a peer mentor, Elza seeks to provide this sense of belonging to the people he works with each day. They battle depression and other emotional problems as a result of the various stresses in their lives, but Elza is happy he can give them some much-needed support.
“Because of my work, I felt like I was not alone,” he says. “So I feel that I can help these people because I can relate to them.”
Elza and Lanetta are a key part of Habitat’s attempt to revitalize the neighborhood in which the JCWP homes are being built. In place of abandoned homes and fractured neighbor relations, friendships will grow, and a pride of ownership will give residents a reason to be involved in their city’s affairs. Elza is excited to be a part of this.
“It’s important to be a part of a community,” he says.