Pictured above: Habitat homebuyer Stephenie and her son, Nicholas
As a single mother who has worked multiple jobs to provide for her son, Stephenie knows the value of hard work. She also knows that with a strong foundation of faith and this hard work, all things are possible.
Born in Oxnard, California, Stephenie’s parents moved her, her little sister and her two younger brothers to Spring Branch, Texas when she was just five years old.
“I am the oldest of four… I always felt that I had to grow up fast and be responsible for my siblings,” Stephenie said. “Growing up I really had no direction in life. I was lost with no real goals or big dreams. I graduated from Smithson Valley High school and had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.”
That all changed for Stephenie when she entered motherhood as a single mom at the age of 23.
“My life had turned completely over and life wasn’t about me anymore. I had this precious sweet boy to raise and to provide for,” said Stephenie. “I had to do what was necessary, and I began to work a lot. I would have 2 or 3 jobs to provide (for) our needs and I still felt it wasn’t enough.”
Stephenie’s life changed again when her son (Nicholas) was diagnosed with a learning disability when he was four years old.
“Just after Nicholas turned a year (old), I noticed that he wasn’t speaking very well. It was more of a gibberish language and no clear words. Being a first time mom, I didn’t worry too much about it,” said Stephenie. “I then noticed other things Nicholas would do that started to concern me. Nicholas was diagnosed with P.D.D. (Pervasive Developmental Disability) at the age of four. He started speech therapy and I began a new journey with his learning disability. I did a lot of research on P.D.D. and Autism. I wanted to learn everything I possibly could to help Nicholas in every way. I had to prepare myself for upcoming challenges that we would face, and we did.”
Among the challenges Stephenie faces, cost of living and affordability rank high.
“Being a single mom was already hard. Being a single mom with a child who has learning disabilities was even harder. I was out of my mind sometimes, and just didn’t know how I could do this on my own. My role as mother was to raise my son in a consistent, structural, disciplined environment. I wanted to help Nicholas with everything he needed, and also not put any limits to his abilities at the same time,” Stephenie said. “Yes, he had a lot of work ahead of him but he was able to learn and grow just like everyone else. Living with my family and other people was not the way I wanted to raise Nicholas. Especially if he needed a safe and consistent environment.”
“I desperately wanted to find a home for ourselves. Nicholas was getting older and my dreams of having a home were starting to fade until we came across this amazing opportunity of Habitat for Humanity. This Christian-based organization has blessed our lives in many ways.”
“Since we have partnered with Habitat for Humanity everything seems to be falling into place. I have this confidence now and feel like I can accomplish anything. I have been setting goals for myself and have this drive for life. I started a new job that I enjoy and was promoted within 6 months of being with there. This is only the beginning for us. Matthew 19:26 - With God all things are possible.”