Kristine Smith

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Within minutes of meeting Kristine it becomes clear that she is determined to never let the hurdles in her life keep her down. That theme is evident throughout her life and is a trait she is diligently imparting to her children.

Kara (15), DJ (13), and Kianna (8) are the driving force behind Kristine applying to become a Habitat homeowner. Currently the family of 4 lives in a three-bedroom apartment built in the 70’s, where Kara and Kianna share a bedroom. “The space is our biggest problem,” says Kristine. “There’s 7 years between the girls and expecting them to share a bedroom doesn’t always make for the most peaceful home life.”

Becoming a Habitat homeowner is important to Kristine because of what it will show her children. “It will really make them proud to see how far we’ve come, all the obstacles we’ve overcome together. I want them to see that they can achieve whatever dream they want, so I have to show them they can by doing it myself.”

Kristine knows she is not the only one who is overcoming adversity in order to pursue her dream and she encourages others to apply to be a Habitat homeowners. “It’s a great program. The steps seem like a lot at first, but they really help. They have a lot of important lessons for all homeowners, not just Habitat homeowners. Everyone deserves the opportunity and the sense of pride that comes with homeownership.” She also encourages anyone thinking about getting involved with Habitat by volunteering or donating to go for it. “You would not know how much a little you give means to people like me who never thought we’d be standing here just months away from a new home. An hour, ten dollars, it has a huge impact on the lives of families that really need Habitat. I don’t know where else you could make an hour or ten dollars go as far as with Habitat.”

Kristine would like for everyone, not just her children, to learn from her experiences. She truly believes there is nothing you can’t accomplish if you just try hard enough. “You might be down but you’re never out. Work hard, keep trying until you make it.”

sONIA DUDLEY

Sonia Dudley

“God is working in you while you work in the community. Sometimes you want things to move quickly- but God wants you to do something first,” says Habitat for Humanity home buyer Sonia Dudley.

Sonia is a graduate of the University of Louisville, program coordinator of senior living at Richmond Place, and mother of two high achieving young adults: Brittanie Dudley, a Northern Kentucky University graduate who currently works as a child welfare investigator and Chandler Dudley, a sophomore at Northern Kentucky University who is aiming for a career in athletic training.

“I put my kids first for many years and I am seeing the rewards. I am very proud of them,” Sonia beams. “As they got older though, I realized something was missing from my life and I knew I needed to make that a priority. I hadn’t been focusing on myself for a very long time.”

Sonia was seeing signs that God was taking her somewhere. She was unhappy in her marriage and knew she needed to make a change towards independence. Sonia kept seeing a Habitat for Humanity sign around town.

“I kept thinking, maybe I should call, why not?” Sonia remembers. “I was leaping into this whole new life. I made the best decision, which was to leave my husband and bring Chandler from Lexington to Winchester. We were in this transitional period and I was seeking my independence and my happiness- it was the right choice, but it was hard to make that change.” Habitat for Humanity became a catalyst for this change. 

“My separation was not complete when I applied to Habitat for Humanity initially and you cannot be approved when you are in the process of a divorce. A home for me and my son was necessary for me to feel fully independent so I worked overtime in order to afford my divorce,” Sonia says. “My home will be a symbol of my independence. It will be mine- and I worked hard for it. It will mean freedom for me and my family.”

Sonia and Chandler love living in Winchester and are moved by the knowledge that volunteers and donors will build their house alongside them.

 “I’m really glad we moved to Winchester,” Chandler says. “It was a more positive place for me to go to high school- more of a community.” “He really blossomed when we moved here,” Sonia adds. 

For Sonia her Habitat house will be a testament to her strength and an asset for her family, something that as a now single woman, Sonia is especially proud to be able to provide. “You have to be strong to have patience and strong to have faith in yourself,” Sonia says. “When I called Habitat and told them my position and what I was going through, the first person who answered the phone [Wendy Metcalf] said ‘don’t get discouraged’ and I haven’t, and they were right.”  

dONONETTA AND HERMAN HAGGINS

Herman & Dononetta Haggins

Grandparents to seven grandchildren between the ages of 2 and 21, high school sweet hearts Dononetta and Herman Haggins stay young by looking after their youngest grandchildren almost every day.

“’You need another house, Grandma’ they always say to me,” Dononetta says.

Dononetta and Herman Haggins currently live in an old family home that has become unmanageable for the couple as Herman has been struggling with health issues for the last several years. The home is fifty years old, with sagging floors and faulty plumbing. Dononetta and Herman know that they need a safer place to watch their grandchildren and age together.

“We only have a wood-burning stove to warm the house,” Herman says. “Every winter we get older and it is harder and harder to keep the fire going. It would feel right comfortable to not have to deal with having to change the wood every three hours.”

They believe that once they are in a decent home their health will improve and that they will finally be able to do the things they love again. “Herman is an artist, he even had his own art show in Winchester,” says Dononetta. “He hasn’t made much art lately but I know he will have more energy once we are in a better home.”

Herman and Dononetta are excited to work with volunteers in Winchester to build their home with Habitat for Humanity.

“Winchester is a really great community,” Dononetta says. “I hope that we are able to give back by letting people see what is possible. It’s never too late to change your life, you’re never too old. If you are thinking about applying for Habitat for Humanity do it right now. Get an application and send it in. Be patient, it is worth it.”

Herman and Dononetta’s home will mean safety, comfort, and more time to enjoy their lives and spend with family. Ultimately their partnership with Habitat will allow them to age in place and remain a part of the neighborhood they love and the community they are invested in.

“We will feel safe and comfortable in our new Habitat house,” Herman says. “We will feel proud to be in a home that is well built and safe, any family deserves that.”