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Building better lives: Habitat for Humanity's mission

The Tuesday and Thursday construction crew for Habitat for Humanity build one of their newest houses at 1717 S. Jefferson St. on Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021.
The Tuesday and Thursday construction crew for Habitat for Humanity build one of their newest houses at 1717 S. Jefferson St. on Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021.

MUNCIE, Ind. (NewsLink) -- Greater Muncie Indiana’s Habitat for Humanity is an organization whose goal is to help provide resources and housing for those in need. The organization has been operating for 35 years and currently serves up to 20 families with new homes a year.

Recently, Habitat for Humanity has been working especially hard for the members of their community. One of those places with tons of redevelopment has been the 812 neighborhood. Resource Development Director Eileen Oaks said the neighborhood has been developed over the past five years and is primarily resident-driven.

“We’ve really partnered with the neighborhood to see what their needs are… We all come together and we use each of our specialties,” said Oaks.

One of the newest homes in the neighborhood is located at 1717 S Jefferson St. The new home will be dedicated to one of the organization’s partner families later this year, but for now, it has provided a work opportunity for some members of the partner families.

Partner families are a vital part of the organization’s mission. Partner families are people in the local community who are in need of housing and a better life.

Charles Davis is one of those partner family members. He said working with Habitat for Humanity has changed his outlook on life.

"It let me know that you know, there's still good people out there," Davis said.

Brandie, who did not want to disclose her last name, is a previous partner family member who recently became a homeowner through Habitat for Humanity. While looking at her life from the outside might make her life sound easy, Brandie has had quite the journey.

"I'm actually a domestic survivor and me and my three kids, we come from that," Brandie said. "We finally got stable in an apartment for nine years and I just woke up a couple of years ago and was like ‘this just doesn’t feel right for me anymore.’ I never knew who was going to be on the other side of my wall because they were apartments so you have people all around you, and some are nicer than others.”

Brandie’s old life left her uneducated on various things that are part of owning a home.

"I mean, I didn't know about credit. I had to learn what that all was and everything," said Brandie.

But after a hard life, Brandie said pairing up with Habitat for Humanity helped her grow as a person and finally provided her with a sense of community.

"It's not 'Oh you get a house and you gotta build a bit on your house,' It's you're actually making friends and goals in life that you didn't even know you wanted," she said.

Unfortunately, Brandie’s story wasn’t uncommon against people who qualify to be partner families. Homeowner Services Manager Ryan Payonk said many of these families are in severe need. 

“When we’re looking for partner families, we have three criteria we are looking at. The areas we are looking at are the need for adequate housing, ability to pay the habitat mortgage and willingness to partner,” said Payonk. “So, the first one, the need for adequate housing is pretty much exactly as it sounds. The family shows that they have a need for housing, whether that be they cannot attain a conventional mortgage, that they currently don't have housing, housing is too expensive, it's not the right size, it's in disrepair… ability to pay the mortgage is exactly as it sounds… we look to see if the family has a positive pay history and is ready to take on this debt in relation to the current debts they may have… and the last thing is willingness to partner with Habitat and that’s really on the family that they’re willing to live where we’re working, that they’re interested in going through our program.”

But from darker beginnings to constructing a new life, Brandie says that pairing with Habitat for Humanity made her more confident.

"Habitat really built back up my confidence. You not only can own your house, you can build your house," said Brandie.

While Brandie helps prepare for a new family to join her neighborhood, Habitat for Humanity is hoping to continue building better lives for those who need it in their search for new partner families.

If you or someone you know from the Muncie area is interested in becoming a partner family, visit Greater Muncie, Indiana’s Habitat for Humanity’s main office at 1923 S. Hoyt Ave. or call them at (765)286-5739.