Most people dream of one day owning their own home. But for some, it's only a dream. That's because after several failed attempts to get a loan, many give up. But one East Texas family found out it can become reality. Katie Thomas says, "I just come home now and it's just like, I'm home. I don't have to move any more." Last month, Katie became a first time home owner in Tyler. A dream come true for this single mother of three girls. "I was so happy it was a blessing, because I completely gave up." For her girls it meant their own space. "I finally have a room without Domonique coming in," says 11 year old Demetria. Her 17 year old sister adds, "It's like a new beginning for us. You know how brothers and sisters are, well, we're trying to start over and be nice to each other." Katie found out last April she was approved for a Habitat home. Then, the work began. "Once they approved me for getting a home, I knew, I had to do my part. God blessed me when he left me with a lot of stuff to do so I would appreciate it more." Part of qualifying includes sweat equity. For the Thomas' it meant 350 hours of community volunteer work. Katie was already working two jobs to make ends meet, getting little sleep. But this family says it was all worth it. "It's a lot of effort to put it, but in the long run, you have your own house and you can finally say you have a house," says 14 year old DJ. There are now 40 Habitat homes in Smith County, and two more under construction. "At every dedication I have gone to there have been tears, just for the simple joy of having gained this fantastic opportunity," says Valarie Asbery, Director of Family Services for Habitat for Humanity. She says it's about more than just building a house, it's about building a community. "We work with our families, we provide education for them, we want them to be successful, not just homeowners but, in every area of their life because by being a home owner it affects the other areas in their life and improves the community." Habitat for Humanity is described not as a hand out, but a hand up, and Katie says she's living proof people shouldn't give up on their dreams. "It's possible. Just pray about it, ask God about it. All you have to do is ask and he will deliver, and just be patient cause it's going to come in time, and when he gives it to you don't give up on your hours."
If you are interested in finding out if you qualify for a Habitat home in Smith County, the next applicant orientation meetings are coming up. The first is Sunday, August 25 at 3:00 p.m.. The next is August 27 at 6 p.m.. Both will be held at True Vine Baptist Church at 713 West Oakwood in Tyler. And for the first time, the meeting will be offered in Spanish on August 29 at 6 p.m. at Douglas Elementary School in Tyler. Habitat for Humanity of Smith County only holds these information meetings about getting a home, two times a year. If you need more details call 903-595-6630, ext. 11.