Cynthia Winn said that even when she was on the streets, the Lord was providing for her. She just didn’t know it. Now she offers praises to God for blessing her in so many ways—including with a Habitat for Humanity house.
“No one ever plans to end up on the streets, but that is what happened to me,” said Winn. “I only planned to be in a homeless shelter temporarily, but I ended up staying there three years. I couldn’t find my niche in life, and the streets are addicting.
“Then I got pregnant. I knew I couldn’t care for a child, and I didn’t want to change my life, so my mother in Texas has raised my son.”
When Winn became pregnant a second time, however, she said her mother told her she needed to grow up and be a mom. “I was very poor, but I knew I had to get off the streets, so I moved into some raggedy apartments because of my child. When you decide to make a big change, you can’t be afraid. You have to take the first step.”
A friend at work told Winn about Habitat, but she admits that she was turned off with the idea of hammering and working to build her own house. “I just didn’t want to do that,” she said. “Plus, I knew my credit was not good and I didn’t think I would ever have anything.”
However, she decided to apply for a home and was amazed at the reception she received from the staff and supporters at the Habitat for Humanity affiliate in Columbia, S.C. “They gave me a second chance,” she said, “and that is something I wanted so badly.”
When Habitat representatives came to her house for a home visit, they prayed with her. “I had never gone to church,” said Winn, “but the people at Habitat talked to me about faith from the beginning. They went out of their way to help me and made me feel so special. My heart just grew. The Habitat program taught me about faith.
“Beforehand, I didn’t trust anyone, but when I realized that this was for real and I was really going to have a house, I was overwhelmed. No longer was I going to have to live in substandard housing with a leaking faucet. This was more than I could ever imagine.”
Habitat supporters transported Winn to meetings and helped her get through the process of being approved for a home. “I knew this was more than just a program,” she said. “The people really cared about me.
“I began some counseling and started blossoming. I also started going to church and soon was baptized. It was so wonderful. The Lord had a hand in all this and accepted me with open arms.”
Winn’s journey has not been without struggle, however. Her abusive boyfriend did not like her new confidence and strength. “It was difficult, but I had to get away from him,” said Winn. “You cannot continue to do the things that you know are not good for you and expect God to bless you.”
Winn also faced health struggles. During the time she was trying to accumulate sweat equity hours, she discovered that she was diabetic and spent several days in the hospital. “I was on my deathbed,” she said. Again, however, her Habitat friends helped her.
Though she is raising her youngest son, Winn also must struggle with what is best for her seven-year-old child, whom her parents have raised. “I have to live with the consequences of a choice I made seven years ago and think about my son. I will have to take it one day at the time. I pray that I will not mess up.”
Winn’s house was funded and built by a multi-faith coalition of churches. “I have met so many people—Christians, Jews and people in the Muslim community. It is so wonderful to have the children of Abraham all doing the Lord’s work.
“They were not out there slaving in the heat for Cynthia,” she said. “They were doing it for the glory of God.” Winn said she feels like a celebrity and is so grateful to all those who have helped her so much. “I get on my knees and thank God,” she said. “I know God has blessed me so much. Go for your blessing. God will deliver you.”