Several years ago, immersed in drugs and a transient life of hotels, shelters and even jail, Eddie and Rebecca Spence knew they had to turn their lives around. In foster homes, the Spence children faced their own uncertain futures. The family was fragmented.
Today, having turned their backs on drugs, secured steady employment and regained custody of their children, Eddie and Rebecca anticipate a tomorrow teeming with hope and possibilityfor themselves and their children. Three years after moving into their Habitat house, the Spence family is thriving, enjoying the stability theyve found in decent, permanent housing.
We used to live in a three-bedroom house with old floors that were in really bad shape, Rebecca Spence says. There was a crack in the bathroom wall where slugs and bugs came through. It was always very moldy. The ceiling leaked in one of the kids bedrooms. The place was just falling apart. The home was in a bad area full of gangs and drug dealers. We feared for our safety and couldnt even go to the park a block away because of drive-by shootings.
We were spending a lot of money ($650) on rent, and the house was not up to standards. Most of our money went for rent, and we didnt have enough left for other things. One year, the school gave the kids clothes, because we couldnt afford any. Now we pay less than half that ($298) for a great [Habitat] house.
At the peak of their turmoil, Eddie and Rebecca Spence met a local pastor who encouraged them to apply for a Habitat partnership. He also offered Eddie Spence a carpentry job in his contracting business, launching a process that would result in homeownership and a family transformed. In the beginning, however, given their history, Rebecca Spence didnt think they would qualify for a Habitat partnership.
You never know unless you try, she says, so we filled out an application still feeling kind of hopeless. Then I got a phone call saying we were approved [for a Habitat house], and I just started praising the Lord, dancing around and jumping up and down.
You not only see the house transform every weekend into a home, but all the people you meet are wonderful too, she says. You appreciate the fact that theyre out there giving their time and labor to help build your house. The children still talk about the whole partnership experience.
Without Habitat, we would probably still be in an overpriced house, and I wouldnt have gotten my GED. I love the fact that its a permanent residence; the kids wont have to move. I remember when I was a child, we moved nine times in one year. Our children wont have to do that. They can live in a stable environment. Our home is like a symbol of turning things around. Its like weve gone from zero to something much more. I dont know, its just amazing how you can turn your life around if you desire to and people are there to help.