Harriet is a single mother of twin daughters. Although her daughters have moved out and live on their own, Harriet takes care of her brother, Jerald, who has a learning disability as a result of a tumor at birth.
Being Jerald’s sole caregiver for the past 20 years inspired Harriet to work with special needs children. “After taking care of my brother, it was in my heart,” Harriet said. “I love my job. It’s really hard to find a job that you can really say you love.” Harriet has worked with special needs children for more than 20 years with Orange County Public Schools as a paraprofessional.
Harriet and her brother were living in an apartment that was a cost burden and infested with mold and rodents. “Renting is really hard and taking care of four people was difficult,” Harriet said.
Harriet noticed people working on a house one Saturday. When she asked about it, they told her about the Habitat for Humanity Greater Orlando & Osceola County housing program. “I always wanted my own home, but it was too difficult to save the money with four people to take care of,” Harriet said. “Habitat eliminates some of the heartache. They are why I’m able to own a home.”
After she was approved, she began working diligently on her sweat equity hours. “The hours were really fun for me. You get to meet so many new people and learn so much.”
Harriet and her brother move into their home in two weeks. She plans to paint her living room in her favorite color – lavender.
Her advice to other future homeowners: “Don’t give up. Look up. Keep going and it will happen.”