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A new window on the world

Lou Ann Smith says she's excited about having windows.

"I miss opening windows most of all," she says, looking around her almost institutional-looking apartment. The only windows are small, high on the wall, out of reach and impossible to look through.

Lou Ann shares her one-bedroom apartment with her 13-year-old daughter Britney. Britney is getting to the age where she wants privacy, Lou Ann says. "And I definitely do!" she laughs.

Lou Ann Smith and her daughter Britney share this small bedroom in their current apartment. In their new Habitat house, Lou Ann and Britney will both have the privacy they need and deserve.

Lou Ann is also excited about the simple idea of owning her own place. "No more white walls," she repeats. She can't wait to add some color to her walls, as well as some artwork and family photos. Her landlord won't allow anything on the walls of her rental unit. Lou Ann "cheats" a bit by hanging up some prints of Bible verses anyway.

Since she was accepted into the Habitat program, Lou Ann says her conception of Habitat has changed a lot. "You don't think you can do something like this," she says. "You're building from scratch!" But Lou Ann has been impressed with the affiliate and construction staff of Harbor Habitat for Humanity, who she says "help you if you want to be helped."

"You've got to step up to the plate," Lou Ann says. "It's easy to quit. Anyone can quit!"

But Lou Ann is not about quitting, and she is eagerly looking forward to the start of the blitz week in Benton Harbor. In one of the homeowner education classes, she watched a video of last year's Jimmy Carter Work Project, and it inspired her. "I'd like to see it," she says, "if it's anything like that film!"

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