“Thank you for the beautiful, warm home I get to be in today. I’m grateful I have a safe place to live. With so much uncertainty during this health crisis right now, I have a great deal of gratitude for my Habitat home.”

Has there ever been a time when, collectively, we’ve been more appreciative of our homes than right now? This feeling of appreciation is especially strong among the many homeowners living in Habitat for Humanity neighborhoods in Nevada County.

Ever resilient, Habitat families have been meeting the shelter-in-place with positivity, responsibility and a deep sentiment of gratitude.

“This has been a good time to grow closer and discover our hobbies again. We cook together and do other things that just bring us closer.” Says Tracy, who has been in her Heritage Oaks home since 2017. Besides having more time with her daughter, Hannah, she is especially proud of her neighborhood.

“I’m thankful for how close our entire Heritage Oaks community is. We may have occasional irritations like in any neighborhood, but we’re together. We’re taking care of one another. The Habitat selection committee really did a good job in piecing this neighborhood together. Habitat helps keep us connected. I’m grateful for that.” To emphasize this commitment to her community, Hannah, a high school sophomore, has been making face masks for others in the neighborhood.

While all agree that they draw strength from their community, there have been common challenges families have faced – especially having the kids at home all day every day.

“The kids are so energetic, so it’s difficult because they really can’t go outside and play with other children.” Says Heritage Oaks homeowner, Nicole. “My youngest has special needs, so I’m very careful about his contact with others. I’m the crazy mom in the front yard shooing away the other kids!”

Martine, also from Heritage Oaks, agrees that not having a place to go with the kids has been challenging. “We really miss the face-to-face with other people. We’re constantly asking, ‘where can we go as a family to have fun, but not be around others?’. It’s challenging.”

Sharon lives in a more established Habitat neighborhood on the other side of town. With no other children in the neighborhood, her kids have had to be inventive.

“We have a trail behind our house that leads up to the high school. To stay in shape, my son takes his bike out and rides that trail for four or five miles every day. He’s typically by himself, so it gives him a good work out.”

The surprise for Sharon, though, has been her daughter, Liddy.  “She has never been much of a reader. But, her studies require her to read every day.  I gave her a choice of books to read and she chose Twilight. I was shocked when she blew through the entire series (four large books) in just a few days! Because of the shelter-at-home she’s discovered a new passion for reading – which is not something she would have normally done.”

Many of the families living in Habitat neighborhoods have been able to continue working, being needed employees in essential businesses like media, health care and grocery stores.

“At work it was pure insanity.” Says Heritage Oaks’ Corinne, who works for Grocery Outlet. “I’ve been at my job for 15 years and have never seen anything like it. We put a palette of paper products out – didn’t even stock the shelves – and it was gone in 10 minutes. However, the busyness has decreased exponentially. It‘s beginning to feel more normal now.

“After work I’ll take a nice long walk before I get home. I work on the front lines – in a grocery store. I’m very mindful of taking care of my health.”

Corinne’s commitment to self-care is echoed by Tracy. “I feel very spoiled and grateful for where I live. I can see trees out my window, not a parking lot. From my porch I can see flowers. Through all of this I can choose to see the beauty around me, I can choose what to look at. That’s essential for remaining healthy.”

All of the homeowners agreed that having a safe, secure, affordable place to call home was the best remedy for remaining healthy during this challenging time.

“Sanctuary,” Martine says. “The meaning of that word has been redefined. At first we were grumbling, but then we experienced a new sense of gratitude for having this safe, wonderful home.”

“Were it not for this home I would be terrified.” Corinne said. “But, because we do have our home, we all feel safe and secure. I know it sounds so basic, but we have a safe place to be with each other. We’re more grateful every day.”

“Our home has been amazing. If we weren’t here I’d be terrified about losing my place to live.” Nicole said. “I’ve managed my money well so I’ll be able to make my mortgage payment. I’m grateful to have this home, knowing we’re here for good.”

“I still reflect about all of my children during this pandemic.” Tracy said. Hannah is her only child left at home, the other four out on their own. “I am grateful that, no matter what is going on in the world, all of my children have this place to come home to. I’m really grateful. I love my home. I’ll never leave.

“Thank you for the beautiful, warm home I get to be in today. I’m grateful I have a safe place to live,” says Tracy, “With so much uncertainty during this health crisis right now, I have a great deal of gratitude for my Habitat home.”


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