By Kira Harris

Growing up Christina Severdia dreamed the American dream: get a good job after college, marry the perfect man, buy a house and build a beautiful family.

But, as is often the case with life, a simple twist of fate changed everything. In 1998, Christina met Mark Severdia, a military man who had served during Desert Storm. She became pregnant, married Mark and college suddenly took a backseat to raising a child.

They eventually had four children to support, and in 2003 Mark re-enlisted in the Army National Guard to provide financial security for his family. He was deployed to Iraq and severely injured his wwback when his vehicle was stuck by bomb during a fire fight. However, the military provided him with pain and anti-inflammatory medications, and kept him on the job. Finally in 2006, Mark was awarded a Purple Heart and honorably discharged.

Back in the United States, Mark was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and memory loss along with his back injuries. His disabilities kept him from work, but he qualified for social security, disability and Veterans benefits. Unfortunately these benefits were not enough to support them.

Along with the stress of Mark’s adjustment to life back in the Oregon, Mark and Christina faced another tragedy. Their youngest daughter, Serenity, was diagnosed with epilepsy and hearing problems, and medical bills stacked up.
Christina, however is a woman of faith. She says she has weathered everything life has thrown her without losing her optimism. Even with the daily health struggles of her family, she managed to get financial aid to attend college.

Christina continually looked for ways to improve their lives-and their living situation needed improvement. The family of six lived in a subsidized two-bedroom apartment. They had a landlord that didn’t maintain the facilities and was hard to reach. There were holes in the walls, doors kept falling off hinges, and the apartment would get extremely hot or cold during the year. Finally, the neighborhood was an unsafe environment for the children, and Christina worried for their safety.

A friend of Christina’s suggested Habitat. Even though Habitat only has a few application meetings a year, one fell on that very night.

“Wow,” Christina said, “I thought that his must be the program for us and God brought me here for a reason.”
They qualified for the program, and began working on their sweat equity hours-Mark helping out where he
was able.

On May 31 the hard work paid off as Christina and Mark received the key to their new home at Jubilee Commons. They are incredibly excited to live in the 23-home Habitat community and love knowing that their money will be going toward their own mortgage.

“I feel very safe here especially since it is a community and we all know one another,” Mark said. “Our kids play together. I’ve always wanted this type of neighborhood.”

Because of the low mortgage payment, Christina is focused on the next leg of her dream-to finish her degree. Her American dream may not have arrived in the way she thought, but she’d be the first to tell you she’s living it now.

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