A terrible car crash, heart failure, and a miracle gave Maria and Desmon the most grateful hearts. And now, they have overcome yet another obstacle — escaping an unsafe and unhealthy living situation to purchase their own home.

“We cannot believe that our dreams are about to become a reality,” Desmon said.

The couple’s home is one of six homes being built in five days during Habitat for Humanity Greater Orlando & Osceola County’s Builders Blitz 2022. Pulte Homes is one of five builders (and their subcontractors) who will donate the materials and labor to build the homes the week of February 7-11. Remarkably, Pulte will build not just one, but two houses, at the event. They are also generously donating the materials and labor to build Wonda’s home this year.

The family is overjoyed to be a part of Builders Blitz.

“People in the community put in so much effort to help us have a place to call our own,” he said. “We are beyond thankful and so excited for the celebration day of seeing our completed house.”

A prayer and a promise

It’s been a long journey to Builders Blitz. When Maria and Desmon met in 2016, Maria was recovering from two major surgeries after a bad car crash.

“He told me at the very beginning that he was praying for me and that we were going to get married. He knew that all my life I was told I could probably never have children,” Maria said, “and, true to his word, we got married.”

Maria finally felt good enough to go back to work but she began to feel faint and fatigued. Thinking her symptoms would go away on their own, she pushed through until she collapsed in the parking lot at her office.

“At the hospital, they told me I was pregnant!” Maria exclaimed. “I couldn’t believe it! It was a surprise and a miracle all at the same time.”

But everything was not rosy. Within months, Maria was diagnosed with a severe case of preeclampsia, a collapsed lung, and stage three congestive heart failure. “This was all happening at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and my wife had to be in the ICU to give birth,” Desmon said. “It was very touch-and-go, and they thought she wasn’t going to make it. But she is a fighter.”

Thanks to extraordinary medical care, Maria and Desmon were relieved and elated to welcome a beautiful, healthy son. Early in 2021, their perseverance was tested again when Maria was back in the hospital due to complications with her heart and fluid in her lungs.

“When they asked me if I had ever been exposed to mold, I told them about the mold we had in our apartment,” Maria said.

Searching for safety and stability

During all of this stress and worry, the new apartment they were supposed to move into wasn’t ready yet, so they had to temporarily live in a hotel. A short while later, Desmon and Maria both tested positive for COVID-19.

“It was horrible,” Maria said. “I was supposed to come home and rest and I couldn’t because we had to move to a hotel, with Covid, a baby, and a heart condition, but God is able.”

They moved into another unit, but they are still dealing with a broken air conditioner, a water leak in the bathroom, and an unresponsive management company. “Maintenance would show up, not fix things, leave, and not come back. We had broken tiles on the bathroom floor with a one-year-old baby, and maintenance covered it with a plastic bag and left.” The apartment is also in a high crime area, which puts them on edge constantly.

“When we are in our own house,” Desmon said, “Maria is going to be able to rest and heal her lungs and not have to worry about mold or things that are constantly broken or renewing leases with new management companies who are always worse than the last.”

Leaving a legacy for Desmon Jr.

“We want to pass on something to our son that he can have forever,” Desmon said. “We want to show him hard work and determination is always worth it. We want to show him that his mom and I love each other and him and are determined to make a difference in our family no matter what we go through. When you put God first, all things are possible.”

Habitat Orlando & Osceola’s future homeowners are required to volunteer to help build homes on the nonprofit’s build sites and take financial management and homeownership classes to ensure long-term success.

“A home is a true blessing to walk into and know this is yours — your blood, sweat, and tears went into it,” he said.

Maria has this message for her son: “Even though we can’t give you any brothers or sisters, we were able to give you a place where you won’t have to hear the bullets going off. A place where you can always feel safe. Where I can take you outside and you can have friends and fresh air. A place that nobody will be able to take away from you. Stability.”

Learn more about Builders Blitz and read more homeowner stories >>
Apply for Homeownership: Habitat Orlando & Osceola offers energy-efficient three- or four-bedroom homes, customizable options and affordable mortgages. Learn more and apply >>

Support Us: You can help more local families experience the peace and freedom of owning an affordable home. When you donate to Habitat Orlando & Osceola, every dollar helps us build homes and work toward a world where everyone has a safe and affordable place to live. You can impact lives through homeownership; please give today.