Annette and her three children soon will move into their first house. And not just any house. This one is all their own and it was hard earned.
Annette’s new home is the 900th house to be built through Central Oklahoma Habitat for Humanity. With some 45 houses built annually by the organization, this is certainly worth an extra celebration. And for Annette, the timing couldn’t be more perfect.
Annette said she has been working towards home ownership for years. She recalled watching HGTV as a child, and how her mother would buy homes. Still, as an adult in pursuit of her own home, she said she has always seemed to fall short of her goal.
It wasn’t until she decided to apply for Central Oklahoma Habitat for Humanity’s home ownership program that things really began to come together. In fact, before applying for the program, Annette had tried to get a home loan through another lender and had even used a credit repair service, but ended up being unsatisfied with their progress.
Then, Annette teamed up with Shelly, a previous Dental Depot employee turned realtor.
“She told me to work my way up (to a brand new house), but I didn’t want to do that,” Annette said. “I thank God, because I think that it just wasn’t the right time for me to get a new home.”
Then in August of 2016, Annette applied to the Habitat program and was denied, but provided with a detailed list of things to fix before reapplying. And that’s just what she did.
“I got my income tax and paid off everything that I needed to pay off,” Annette explained. “I reapplied March 4th, and by March 10th, my birthday, they called me for more information, but I never thought they were going to approve me!”
Before the close of that month, Annette received her acceptance call.
“I’ve been let down so much throughout life that I felt like I was going to be let down again, and like I didn’t deserve it,” Annette said. “But Linda, an employee [at Dental Depot], she would stay in prayer for me, every night for a long time.”
Throughout Annette’s journey with Habitat, she has continued Linda’s ritual of prayer on her own, often times twice a week venturing out to the lot where her new home will sit to pray over the land.
And Annette’s lot is an answered prayer all its own.
Annette was given a list of available lots. After driving around and personally surveying a variety of lot options, Annette chose one and prayed over the land, only to find out that it was no longer available.
“I was let down, until I wasn’t,” Annette said.
It turned out that an updated list had a second lot come available, just one subdivision over and with access to a park where she plans to play with her daughter.
You get to pick the lot, your own brick, everything inside and more, Annette explained. And it’s not a free home like so many people think. There’s still a mortgage – although interest-free – to be paid and 300 hours of service and labor to be put in.
Moreover, Annette’s prayers were answered in how smoothly her journey with Habitat for Humanity has gone. She has been able to attend 40 hours of classes, work 50 hours at Habitat ReStores, participate in 10 hours of night watch – guarding precious building materials – and now work on 50 hours of construction without ever missing work.
“Every class – they’re months apart – they were all on my off day or after 5 p.m.,” Annette explained. “In fact, I went over 300 hours! You have to do 150 hours and then friends and family [or hours donated] do 150, but I set my mind to doing 300 hours on my own and I got them done in three months.”
Once approved, the journey to home ownership with Habitat can take up to 12 months, but Annette is on track to complete her journey in a staggering seven months.
With 300 hours of service under her belt from this process, it’s no wonder her stories are about much more than the end goal.
“I met kids in high school who are friends on my Instagram now,” Annette laughed as she talked about her experiences while completing her service hours. “I did 50 hours building in critical home repair for people who have existing homes. They taught me about tools, how to upkeep your lawn, city ordinance, escrow, equity …” and so much more..
It’s all become more real to Annette, day by day. On a recent trip to pray over her lot, Annette met one of her new neighbors who, she said, was friendly and welcoming. But most of all, Annette said she looks forward to being able to put her daughter in her own princess room, and to living in a community where she’ll finally be able to see her kids play outside with other kids and for herself to build relationships with her neighbors.
“People think habitat is just for single moms,” Annette said. “But it’s not. It’s for everyone.”
“Another thing about this housing thing, going forward, you have to get your priorities straight,” Annette continued. “It’s been a blessing. It’s also scary. It’s a big responsibility.”
“You have to believe in yourself,” Annette said. “I didn’t believe in myself before, but now I do.”
Annette considers herself lucky and very grateful for all of the help she has received from family, friends, and co-workers throughout her journey to home ownership.
“I couldn’t do this without Dental Depot,” Annette said. “I’ve been working here for six years and without Depot, I wouldn’t have the work history I need. Depot has helped me move from the South side, and I have this passion now that I didn’t have before. I feel like this environment is really good for me.”