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“I want to build a future for myself, and being a homeowner is that first step. I am ready to take a step in the right direction.”

Ashley, a 33-year-old Florida Department of Health employee, is working towards her forever home with Habitat. Ashley’s work consists of contact tracing and case investigation. “I believe it was important for me to get involved with the local communities, and help the spread of COVID-19. I assist patients and clients with setting up doctor appointments, unemployment, food stamps, and more. I feel very empowered knowing that I am making a positive influence in our community.” Her two Golden Retrievers, Lily and Leo, and herself will soon move into a new home.

Ashley’s family has gone through some hardships, watching he mother battle stage 4 colon cancer. She says her dogs have helped “give me life again and remain positive. We spend a lot of time outdoors at parks and beaches. I myself love to paddleboard, garden, and learn anything new related to my career.”

She currently resides at a local apartment complex, where she feels that her money is going down the drain. “I took a major pay cut to pursue a more peaceful lifestyle. As a nurse back home in Boston, my life was consumed with working. I made a good living, but I was not truly happy. I don’t regret my career change one bit, but I do have to make sacrifices to afford the apartment I live in. For as much money as I pay, I can constantly hear every move that the neighbors make. I have to rely on slow maintenance crews to fix any minor issues, and when I first moved in my entire apartment smelled of smoke. With no concern from the management, I do not feel appreciated here.”

When she was accepted into the Habitat program, Ashley said, “I started crying on the phone. I was so excited and knew that I would soon be in a better position to provide for myself and my future. I felt empowered to be on this new journey with Habitat.” Ashley has really enjoyed her sweat equity hours so far, especially the finance and budgeting classes that are helping her save for her future.

“It will be such a wonderful feeling to have financial security and peace of mind. I won’t ever have to worry about rising rent prices or moving every year. My rent has already increased almost $700 a month from when I first moved in. This opportunity to build equity, pride in my ownership, and have a yard for my dogs will put a smile on my face for the remainder of my life.”

“A house is made of bricks and beams, but a home is made of hopes and dreams. That is what I am building towards. My house will be where love resides, memories are created, friends always belong and laughter never ends. Home is more than just shelter. It is where we love, feel, and can be ourselves no matter what happens in life.”

The Gessner Family Home was dedicated on October 1st, 2021 and was sponsored by Lokey Charities.

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