Kiona Mack family -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

Kiona Mack family

 


Kiona Mack says the federally subsidized Tyler House Apartments in Washington, D.C., where she lives with her two children, Arnez, 7, and Arreona, 3, is a dangerous environment. On Oct. 4, a crew of volunteers including former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, will begin building a new home for the Mack family in Ivy City.

©Habitat for Humanity International/Ezra Millstein

   


‘Such a good feeling to have your own home’

Kiona Mack, 28, is an administrative assistant for a company that manages the federally subsidized Tyler House Apartments in Washington, D.C., where she lives with her two children: Arnez, 7, and Arreona, 3.

“It’s kind of calm in the daytime, but at night I don’t let my kids go out at all,” Mack said. “It’s a dangerous environment. You don’t know what can happen.”

On Oct. 4, a crew of volunteers including former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, will begin building a new home for the Mack family in Ivy City.

“It’s going to mean a whole lot,” said Arnez, a third-grader. “We’re going to have a house, and I get to play in a yard.”

Mack, who grew up in D.C., does the best she can to keep her kids healthy and happy in a depressed urban environment.

“I try to keep Arnez in sports,” she said. “Monday through Friday, we’re at football practice from 6 to 8 p.m. And Arreona even gets a chance to play on the field with other little girls.

“When football season is over, we have to worry about finding something else to do,” she said.

Arnez is a good student and a football star at school. Last season, he won three trophies for being an outstanding defensive player. He also excels at basketball, and aspires to play professionally when he grows up.

Arreona is entranced by Dora the Explorer, whose likeness appears on all sorts of toys stacked neatly in the family’s small living room.

“I like Boots,” she said, referring to Dora’s loyal sidekick monkey.

Arnez and Arreona may be too young to appreciate all the details of getting a home that will be built with the hands-on help of a former U.S. president and first lady. But their mother is very clear about what a special experience this year’s Carter Work Project will be for her family.

“I’m very excited to meet the Carters,” Mack said. “And it’s such a good feeling to be able to say you’re going to have your own home.”