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10:23 am
Thu September 5, 2013

Home at last: The story of one family's search for a home

Sonya Gelter (left) and Lil Barron talk about Sonya's experience finding and receiving a home from Habitat for Humanity
Credit STORYCORPS

Sonya Gelter is a single mom of five children, and she was the recipient of a zero-percent loan for a Habitat for Humanity home. She was interviewed by Lil Barron, a Habitat for Humanity employee, in the booth at StoryCorps.

"I was just getting divorced. I had five children, and we were on our way to losing a home," Sonya said of her life just prior to her Habitat for Humanity experience. "I didn't know what to do, or where to go. I had these five kids, my youngest, the twins, were a year and a half old."

Listen to Sonya's story.

After being refused housing many times because of her status as a single mom of five children, Sonya said she had a friend step in and help her find an apartment. But it wasn't the ideal place she wanted to raise her family.

"This apartment, right outside on our sidewalk, we had a gang beating and the man was killed. Right outside, 10 feet from our door. It was a miserable place," Sonya said.

After moving many more times, Sonya heard an advertisement for Habitat for Humanity.

"I thought, 'I am not going to have someone hand me a home,'" she said.

She heard the ad another time, and said it just stayed in her mind, until she broke down and called the organization.

"I finally put away my pride and called. They explained a little bit to me, that I would work for this home, that I would have good credit for this home. It was not a freebie," Sonya said.

She applied for a Habitat for Humanity house in the fall, and received a letter in the mail just before Christmas.

"I didn't open it until Christmas morning, and I had my kids gathered around me. I said, 'Here we go, we're going to open this,'" she said. "When we opened that letter, literally, we were all in a circle jumping around in the kitchen. and thinking, 'Oh it's going to be our home and we don't have to move.' That year we had moved four times, and my kids had gone to four different schools."

Sonya said the house her family received doesn't just affect her family, but the community, and everyone who was involved in the program and the people around who get involved.

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