The Hopkins Family

When Jennifer Hopkins first started working at Habitat for Humanity’s 171st and Division build site, it wasn’t easy. After hammering nails in a wall all morning, she spent the afternoon removing and redoing the job to correct the bent nails.

The work site where Jennifer is putting in her sweat equity is not only her future neighborhood, it’s also just blocks from where she grew up. She’s looking forward to owning her own home in the neighborhood and watching her sons grow up there, but getting here hasn’t been easy.

A few years ago, Jennifer’s husband was laid off and they lost their home to foreclosure in 2009. They stayed with friends or rented an apartment, but nothing was permanent; they moved frequently, and the boys changed schools multiple times. In 2011, Jennifer and her husband separated, then divorced and life continued to be turbulent. Jennifer found a full-time job but was then laid off and she and her sons were still without a permanent home.

Finally, in 2012, Jennifer was hired back with the company that had laid her off. Around that time, she heard that Habitat for Humanity was building nearby; she knew this was the opportunity she needed to give her boys a permanent home of their own.

“I feel like our lives are finally on the right track and we are all still healing and growing,” Jennifer said. “We’re rebuilding just as our home is being built.”

The three boys are already making plans about how to decorate the house and what games they’ll play in the cul de sac. Jennifer has to remind them that they can’t move in until the home is finished.

“We drive by regularly so they can see that it’s not ready to live in yet, but that doesn’t stop my youngest who is four from asking nearly everyday if we’re moving into our new home today.”

Jennifer will just keep telling him, not yet, but soon. And she will keep building walls, even if once in awhile a nail doesn’t go in straight. Because, as she said, sometimes it just takes a little time to figure out the best way to get the job done.

“Just proves you should never give up on something just because it seems difficult or isn’t going your way.”