Like many parents, Heather and James would do anything for the good of their family. They only moved within their neighborhood so their children would not have to change schools. When their youngest was born, Heather chose to be a stay-at-home mom and James took on more managerial responsibilities at work. They found a balance and were able to keep day-to-day life in check.

But when someone rear-ended their car in a serious crash last year, James’ injuries sent him on a three-month medical leave and life became more strained. With three teenage boys sharing one room, an apartment with critical repairs in waiting, and a monthly rent increase of $75 looming, the holidays seemed bleak.

When they received the call that their application for Habitat for Humanity’s affordable homeownership program had been accepted, they couldn’t believe it.

“It was a great feeling,” they said. “We’re still in disbelief that it’s really happening.”

For them, owning a home was always an intangible idea; something they longed for, but remained just out of reach. When their daughter, Selena, was born, they knew things had to change.

“I want my wife and my kids to have a better life,” James said. “I don’t want them to see what I grew up with, so I work hard to make sure it happens.”

That drive lends itself to their dedication in finishing their sweat equity. Amidst the many hours on the build sites, Heather has tilled bare land for home foundations to be built upon; James uses his hands-on knowledge in constructing his neighbors’ homes–many of whom he’s established relationships with as customers at the Cully grocery store he manages. Together they will make up a diverse community of families establishing themselves through affordable homeownership.

“I think it’s going to give us a lot of relief,” Heather said. “It’ll give the kids more space and more stability; time to bond with themselves.”

It will mean more room for their eldest, James, to complete his GED as he considers a career as an electrician; more space for Dylon to perfect his baseball and skateboarding moves; more time for Bobbe to develop his budding identity as the youngest son–all the while, Selena sprouts into her adolescence.

It will give Heather and James more moments to cherish their growing family; time to relax and slow down the pace of everyday life. It will be a home where they can build a life together in the comfort of first-time homeownership.