The Ophelia Matthews family -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

The Ophelia Matthews family

‘A chance to break that chain’

Years ago, Ophelia Matthews’ mother told her to apply for a Habitat house, but she didn’t try. “I was sure I would get turned down, and the idea was just too hard,” she said.

Today, Matthews and her four children are ready for a new start in a Habitat house on Clay Street.

Matthews grew up in her grandmother’s house on Gross Avenue in Annapolis. When her grandmother died, Matthews moved to public housing with her aunt and cousins. She has been trying to figure out how to get out of public housing ever since.

For the past five years, Matthews and her four children—Dalontay, 11; Rayhaun, 9; Laniah, 7; and Deshaun, 5—have been renting an apartment in the public housing complex at Eastport Terrace. The three boys share a bedroom, and Matthews says the neighborhood is not a great place for the children.

“There are just too many people hanging out on corners,” she said. “It is hard on us since we are willing to work hard to get out.”

Matthews works in the Alzheimer’s unit at Heart Homes, a nursing home in the Annapolis area. “It takes special training and patience, but I know we are making a big difference for our residents,” she said. “We are their family; we see them and care for them every day.”

Matthews likes to read books and travel. Her favorite trip so far has been to Jamaica. “The people are so friendly and warm,” she said.

Soon her new home will occupy her free time. “This home is a chance for me and my children to start over, while they are still young. It’s a chance to break that chain of living in public housing.”

Matthews is a woman of strong faith. “God is good,” she said, “He has answered my prayers.” She calls Habitat “a dream come true. If there was no Habitat, I would not be able to own my own home. I would still be living in public housing.”