Q&A with April Lee
City of Residence: Warner Robins
Occupation: Cashier at Home Depot
QUESTION: Youre having a much different start in 2014 than 2013.
ANSWER: I am. I moved into a Habitat for Humanity home about a month ago.
QUESTION: A great way to end the old and start the new.
ANSWER: It feels magnificent. I dont even know how to describe it. Life changes, and better things can happen. Its something I can call my own. Owning my own place gives a great aspect of security, my own privacy. And its a great investment.
QUESTION: In a way its a gift and in a way its not. True?
ANSWER: Its like a gift from God to me with him using Habitat to make it possible. At the same time, I had a lot of work to do on it. I had to work through the Habitat process, put in a lot of sweat equity and now I make monthly payments like any other homeowner.
QUESTION: Did you enjoy the process?
ANSWER: I did. I appreciate what Habitat does for people so much I started helping build others houses and earning sweat equity even before I got approved for my house.
QUESTION: So you work a job and were helping others even before you knew youd get one?
ANSWER: Yes. Besides working at Home Depot Im also studying public services at Middle Georgia State College. Thats where I found out about Habitat in the first place. I feel that helping others is part of my calling. I should graduate this summer.
QUESTION: Talk about the Habitat process.
ANSWER: First of all, I had gone to a bank to ask about a loan to buy a house. They didnt even run my credit and just told me I couldnt afford anything in Houston County. They werent very nice. When I heard about Habitat, I went online to find out more and filled out a pre-application. I guess that was October 2012. They let me know I was eligible to apply, and I came in and filled out an application, went through a home interview and eventually the Habitat board approved me. We -- me and a lot of awesome volunteers -- got to building, and in late November I closed on it and moved in.
QUESTION: Did you take part in any Habitat education programs?
ANSWER: I did the consumer credit counseling program and Empowering Successful Home Ownership Workshop. Those were so helpful.
QUESTION: And you moved in the home with
ANSWER: My 14-year-old daughter, Aniya. Shes a student at Warner Robins High School. An excellent, excellent student.
QUESTION: Dont you have a military background?
ANSWER: Twenty years Air Force Reserve. I was a service specialist and did lodging and food services at Dover Air Force Base, Del. I also did port mortuary services at Dover and was there during 9/11.
QUESTION: That involves processing remains from overseas deaths and homeland mass fatalities. It must have been tough duty.
ANSWER: Extremely. There was a lot of struggling, but you put it to the side and press on.
QUESTION: You obviously like the house -- how about the new neighborhood?
ANSWER: I want to do my heart to make it a great neighborhood, a safe neighborhood and a good environment for all of us to raise our kids. In the future, Id love to see us start a community center for kids with an after school program. Thats a hope I have.
QUESTION: Habitat and community support made your house possible, but you had to organize and do work. What was your favorite part of building?
ANSWER: I loved building and learning. I enjoyed networking and just being part of the whole Habitat family. I have no family here in Georgia, and every week it seems like there was somebody new coming in and out of our lives, and every Saturday we sat down and broke bread with someone new at the builds. It was great.
-- Michael W. Pannell