If you were to meet Kanita today, you would meet a confident, charismatic leader who likes to laugh and has never met a stranger -- and whose children are well-mannered and mature for their age. You would never guess the struggles Kanita has endured, including a period of homelessness.
“I’ve had a hard life,” she says. “I remember the pain.”
But Kanita is on the verge of becoming a homeowner, thanks to lots of hard work, good family and a little hand up from Charleston Habitat for Humanity.
Kanita has always strived to improve her family’s lot, and owning their own home has been part of the plan. She began researching housing options a year ago, found Habitat and applied. When the acceptance letter arrived, “I read the letter and cried,” she said. “I’m not a crier, so the kids just hugged me.”
Kanita has been intimately involved in the building of her own house, working on site even when no one else was. She likes the idea that the Joppa Way neighborhood is a real community where she doesn’t have to worry about her children’s safety when they are out playing. Four-year-old Connor will have a backyard, and 16-year-old Kanisha and 12-year-old Cora are already planning their sleepovers.
One Wednesday, a dozen or more of Kanita’s co-workers at Delta, where she has worked in operations for five years, volunteered on her house. The banter was warm and affectionate, and it was evident that she was held in high esteem.
Kanita has reveled in the 500 hours of sweat equity, learning about how her house gets made. She asks a lot of questions and makes mental notes, except for one thing. “I hate trusses with a passion,” she laughs. “Lifting them from the ground to the roof without machinery is hard work!”
But hard work has been the cornerstone of Kanita’s life and has gotten her and her family into their own home.
“There were days when I didn’t know where I’d be tomorrow or how I was going to get bread or milk,” she said. “Owning my own home makes me feel peaceful.”