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A Phoenix Rising: This is Diana

Most of us can’t imagine losing our home and precious possessions to a burning fire, but that’s what Diana and her children endured.

After the fire, Diana, her teenage daughter Xaryana, and her 4-year-old son Aiden moved into a hotel room. When they could no longer afford to pay for the hotel, a family friend who’s so close that the kids call her “Grandma” invited them to move in and stay awhile.

Diana is a kindhearted, single mom that’s committed to her kids. Xaryana is incredibly artistic, and Aiden loves to play Pokemon Go with his mom and sister.

“We’re pretty strong when we work together,” Diana says.

All they have is each other. Xaryana’s dad passed away when she was 2, and Aiden’s dad passed away when he was 1. “I took grief recovery classes. I don’t know if we’ve completely overcome it- we’re still working on it. It’s easier to cope now,” Diana shares. Now, she’s doing her best to provide everything for her kids on her own.

Since Diana has just one income from her job, she can’t afford the current housing market. Plus, she says, “The fire has made it feel almost impossible. I never thought it would be so hard to get a house.”

Diana wanted a more stable housing solution, and knew she needed a hand-up from her community. One of her close friends was a regular Habitat volunteer. He told her, “You’ve gotta get into this program! If anybody could do it, you can.” So, she listened! She applied to Habitat Tucson’s homeownership program and was accepted.

When Diana thinks about the moment she was selected, she tears up. “I don’t even know if words can express it. It was just like a guardian angel. I’ve always dreamt of having my own home. You guys are the solution to my dream coming true.”

The sweat equity process has been extremely rewarding for Diana. She says, “Every time I leave the construction site or the store, I feel like I’m a better person for it. Whether I’m getting a house or not getting a house, I feel like I’m becoming a better person.” Even though it can be difficult to fit hours into her schedule, she says “it’s worth it in the end.”

“This program is a lifesaver. It’s an amazing opportunity for anybody to be involved, whether it’s as homebuyer or a volunteer. Just being involved makes you feel 100 times better than you could ever imagine feeling. Not just one good deed, but really making a difference. You guys are lifesavers. When I thought there was no hope, you brought hope into my life.”

The opportunity to achieve homeownership has made Diana feel optimistic and determined.

In their new Habitat home, they will each be able to have their own rooms. “I’ll be able to decorate my son’s room, and then decorate my own room so that it’s not all about Baby Shark in my room,” Diana laughs. Xaryana wants to paint a mural on her bedroom walls; she loves Tucson’s mural culture.

Diana’s mortgage for her new Habitat home will be affordable. For a single mom who needs to purchase and replace what was lost in the fire, an affordable monthly payment will make all the difference. She feels relieved knowing that she won’t have to work massive amounts of overtime just to get by.

Looking forward, the Habitat mortgage will enable her to save more for her kids’ futures. Strength and stability are priceless.

“It will be stable,” she says. “Home is the foundation. It’s the foundation for everything to run smoothly in your life. Without a home, everything can feel impossible. We are going to come together as a family once we have this foundation of home.”

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