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Role models run in the family A determined young woman shows what’s possible with a little hard work -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

Role models run in the family

A determined young woman shows what’s possible with a little hard work

By Julia Sellers


The Redic family includes three Habitat homeowners. Viola Redic and her daughter Annette were approved for their Habitat homes in 1999. Another daughter, Deseree, was approved in 2008. From left: cousin Angel, 12; Annette; Viola’s son Joshua, 18; Viola; Deseree’s son, Lundyn, 3; and Deseree. Habitat for Humanity International/Jason Asteros


Viola Redic sands the hardwood floors of her home in Milwaukee, Wisc. Redic’s do-it-yourself attitude was perfect for tackling a home renovation as a Habitat homeowner. Photo courtesy of Viola Redic


Members of Viola Redic’s family stand in front of her newly acquired Habitat home set for rehabilitation in 1999. Both Viola and her daughter Annette were approved as Habitat homeowners that year. Photo courtesy of Viola Redic


In the mid-1990s, while most other 18-year-olds were buying their first cars or stereo systems or spring break plane tickets, Annette Redic was saving up for a house.

At 18, she already had two children — 2-year-old Aquinas and baby Malik — and was working full time while attending night classes at a community college in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

“Everything was motivated by my two boys,” Redic said. “I worked really hard at not being a stereotype, since I had two kids by the time I was 18. My biggest motivation was to be something, to do something, and to take care of my kids.”

As a child, Redic and her mother and siblings had moved again and again. Sometimes they moved just a few blocks — anything to stay within their limited budget. Location wasn’t important; neither was size. She grew up sharing bedrooms, with little privacy. She wanted something more stable for her boys.

While researching low-interest home loans with her mother, Redic discovered Habitat for Humanity. And so, the plucky 18-year-old marched into the office of Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity and filled out an application.

She didn’t get a house then — she didn’t make enough money and didn’t meet Milwaukee Habitat’s minimum age requirement. But the rejection didn’t crush her dream.

“It showed me that one day I could have it,” Redic said, adding that she is grateful to the Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity staff for their encouragement. “Even though I didn’t meet their requirements, it was neat that they still sat down and showed me everything I needed to qualify.”

Her dream proved contagious. Today, three generations of Redics live in Habitat homes.

Investing in herself

Redic’s initial experience with Habitat inspired her mother, Viola, to try to become a homeowner.

“I was paying about $400 a month for rent,” Viola said, “and I realized my mortgage could be in the same range.”

She started saving alongside her daughter, both slowly working toward a $3,000 down payment.

The year 1999 was a big one for the Redic family. Annette completed her associate’s degree in applied science and medical billing, and both mother and daughter were approved for Habitat homes.

Viola would move into a restored foreclosure. Annette was heading to a new home in a community that Milwaukee Habitat wanted to revitalize with young homeowners.

The choices fit each woman’s lifestyle.

After years of living in rental houses, Viola was eager to undertake some do-it-yourself projects in her own place. She loved the potential of the house and set about transforming it into her dream home.

She and her four children refinished the hardwood floors, converted the extra attic space into a music room for her youngest son, and turned the unkempt, fenced-in yard into a floral showcase.

More than a decade later, she’s still making adjustments to her home, tailoring it to suit an emptier nest now that only one son lives with her.

Viola continues to donate her DIY skills to Milwaukee Habitat. She trains each year’s new crop of AmeriCorps members in Construction 101, and she leads ceramic tiling classes for new homeowners preparing to tackle bathroom and kitchen projects.

“I love working with Habitat,” she said.

Next: ‘I can come home to my house’
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