A woman standing under a tree smiles at the camera.Alethia and her family can’t help but regularly drive by the site of their future home in Orlando’s Holden Heights neighborhood. The family, made up of Alethia’s five children and one granddaughter, talks every day about the house that Habitat for Humanity Greater Orlando & Osceola County is working with them to build.

The house has become a focal point for them. Their acceptance into Habitat Orlando & Osceola’s program couldn’t have come at a better time.

“This has truly been a long time in the making for me,” Alethia said of homeownership. “At the lowest point in my life, Habitat was my ray of sunshine.”

Alethia ended an abusive relationship before being accepted into the program. After she and her family were forced to leave their former home, they lived in a hotel for seven months. They now have alternate housing, but it’s small for a family of their size.

There’s Alethia’s 22-year-old daughter Ta’shiauna, who has a 2-year-old daughter of her own named Valencia. Ta’shiauna, along with Alethia’s 17-year-old son Darius, make up Alethia’s “backbone.”

“The two oldest ones are my best friends,” Alethia said. “There’s nothing we can’t talk about, there’s nothing that we can’t share.”

Gabrielle, her 12-year-old daughter, has a form of dwarfism but “doesn’t let it hold her back,” Alethia said. That independence is shown in her wish list for her new room. Gabrielle simply wants a small enough closet to put her clothes away herself – and a lowered light switch.

“Sometimes she’ll do things that I didn’t know she could,” Alethia said.

Tomboy 11-year-old Camille is an animal activist who thrives outdoors, while 9-year-old A’Nylah is the brains of the group and enjoys cooking. They will share a room – and want to decorate it with dinosaurs and princesses.

Alethia’s children have already designed their new six-bedroom home, including the flooring and exterior colors. The only room Alethia gets to design is the kitchen, she admitted with a laugh.

The family worked together to meet Habitat Orlando & Osceola’s homeownership requirements.

Ta’shiauna helped watch the younger children while Alethia took homeownership classes and worked with Darius on the build site. Darius has become a man, Alethia said, as he worked to complete their sweat equity with her at Habitat Orlando & Osceola’s build sites.

Alethia said she has learned a lot in the process – from household repairs to prevalent homeowner scams.

All the information is important for this first-time homeowner. Alethia didn’t grow up in a stable home environment, but she wants something different for her own family. Homeownership is a dream not only for herself but for her children as well.

Homeownership raises the bar, Alethia said. Knowing her children watched her work hard for this dream, Alethia hopes they do the same with their own dreams.

“They just have to know that hard work and determination will get it,” Alethia said.

Owning her own home will give her children stability. It’s a place they can return to – and a place Alethia can leave to them.

Alethia is most looking forward to holidays in their new home.

“I want that to be my house – the Publix commercial with everyone sitting around the table,” Alethia described. “I just want love to be generated in my house for my kids and my grandkids.”


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