“A house is love,” sang 7-year-old Ashlee Centamore during her family’s Raritan Valley Habitat for Humanity home dedication. The performance was mostly impromptu, says her mother Jessica. “She practiced a little in the car on the way over there, but it’s only a 15-minute drive,” she laughs. Though she’s never had any lessons, Ashlee has “always liked music,” Jessica says. “She loves to have a microphone and be in front of everybody.”
When older sister Alyssa plays the keyboard, Ashlee likes to join her on guitar. The keyboard, though, has been one of many items left in storage — the family has moved five times in the last four years, including stays in Florida and Oklahoma before returning to New Jersey. Much of that time has been spent in cramped apartments, with no room for the girls to play.
“With the house, I can give my kids stability,” says Jessica, adding that the girls don’t fully grasp the changes in store. “I’ll just be really happy when they realize we don’t have to move again. It breaks my heart.
“They had to leave their friends at the other places we lived, and it was really hard on them. They won’t have to leave their friends again.”