‘We get to own something we never owned before’ -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

‘We get to own something we never owned before’

Ronda Monroe (36, black shirt), and her five children were reunited five days after Hurricane Katrina: Alecia (18, white shirt/glasses), Alexis (16, red shirt), Adrian (15, black shirt), Andrea (15, hairband) and Jamesha (9, white shirt).

Learn more about the host affiliate:

Habitat for Humanity of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

The new four-bedroom house on Skip Avenue will have burgundy, red, purple, posters with stars of sports and music, laughter, and room.

Room enough for Ronda Monroe, 36, and her five children. Almost room enough for all their hopes and dreams.

The children are already hard at work at their dreams.

Alecia, 18, the oldest, is a college student in pre-med at the University of Southern Mississippi. She helped raise her brothers and sisters, but now is away at college where she is a forward when she plays basketball with her friends and just got a B on her biology test. She wants to be a pharmacist.

Alexis, 16, likes high school math because she likes solving problems. She is in Navy ROTC and marches in competitions which the whole family likes to attend. She wants to be a businesswoman and run a daycare center or a beauty salon with hair stylists.

Next are the twins Andrea and Adrian, both 15. Adrian’s nickname EI was the gift of his sister with whom he shared a twin language. (The family thinks the twins liked Old MacDonald, his farm and E-I-E-I-O.) Playing cymbals in the band and running back in football are part of his life now, but he really likes science and wants to be an engineer. Being a twin is extra special, he explained, and “hard.”

Andrea likes English became it comes easy for her. She’s been writing poems and stories since elementary school. But she wants to be a social worker or a counselor because she really likes to help people, she said.

Jamesha, 9, is cheerleader and a gymnast on the Gulf Coast All-stars. She likes reading books, and her choice of a future career is a few years ahead.

Source of inspiration

Grouped around their mother on a sofa in their small apartment, the children, shyly at first, describe Ronda Monroe.

“She’s a hard worker,” Alecia began. “Fair, loving, loves to cook and makes great pizza, spaghetti, stew, and cheeseburger macaroni (Adrian’s favorite),” the group explained, summarizing, “Mom is a good parent.”

“She always tries to give us what we need and what we want at times,” Alecia said.

Monroe does work hard at being a good parent. She said she has succeeded:

  • with the help of God.
  • “Because I have good parents and they didn’t turn me away.”
  • “[Because] I never give up.”

Staying on call
Not giving up is part of Monroe’s advice to other families: “Married or single, keep trying. You can do it. Trust in God and pray and He will see you through.”

Prayer is an important part of her life and her decision to seek a Habitat house. She had read about Habitat for Humanity’s work in the Gulf in the newspaper, but didn’t do anything about it. Later in prayer she felt a strong leading to apply, and she was approved.

Born in Philadelphia, Miss., she graduated from Moss Point High School and has an associate degree in business administration. She is the first person patients meet when they arrive at the Singing River Regional Cancer Center. Her job as a patient representative is vital to patients and their families and she acknowledges handling tense, touching or sad situations almost every day.

It was her job at the hospital that kept her in town when Katrina hit. She was on call.

Her oldest daughter Alecia stayed because she didn’t think her mom should be alone. Monroe sent the rest of the children out of danger with her own mother.

For the first time

The family finally got together again five days later; they stayed with Monroe’s mother because their own apartment was heavily damaged by wind and water. Monroe slept in a back bedroom despite the damage and mold in the rest of the apartment so her kids would have someplace to sleep at her mother’s.

Later the family moved to their present overcrowded apartment where mold is a continuing problem.

Monroe and her oldest daughter are at work on their sweat equity for the new house. Co-workers and friends are volunteering to help, too.

Ronda says she’s done a lot of things she never did before. “I did well for the first time. I had fun,” she told her children.”

Volunteers and Habitat are “giving me the opportunity to own a house, my own house. Thank you. I know I’m early, but we are so looking forward to it. We get to own something we never owned before.”

The Habitat house, she said, is “a blessing from God.”