“I was made to be your mom. I was made to do this. And each of you is meant to be here.”
Cassandra often tells her kids this, and she means it. It’s clear that her two daughters, Bryseida and Maya, and one son, CJ, love and trust her from the way they speak respectfully to her and encourage each other. It’s been just the four of them for over ten years, plus Sunny the cat and Weasley the dog.
Together, they are working to become homeowners. Cassandra always wanted to provide a safe place forher kids. She didn’t have the easiest childhood.
She was initially raised by her grandmother who died when she was young, which lead to being passed around from family member to family member. When her parents reentered her life, they didn’t provide any stability; she’d stay with her mom for a while until her mom’s boyfriend would kick her out, and then she’d go to her dad’s, and the same thing would happen with her dad’s girlfriend. She ended up staying with friends and eventually her uncle took her in, which was a blessing as she entered adulthood.
After becoming a mother, she knew she needed to have the strength and courage to leave an unsafe relationship with her children’s father, promising her kids that she would do anything and everything to make sure they had their own place. Now, Cassandra works in property management and has taken on second and third jobs to support her children.
“I did everything in my power to make sure that my kids didn’t see what I had to see. I want them to have their own home, know that they will be safe forever, and always have somewhere to sleep.”
Cassandra and her kids have lived in the same rental home for 7 years. It’s an old house with cracks in the walls. Her oldest daughter Bryseida sometimes says, “Mom, the weeds are growing through the wall again!” There’s a litany of other physical problems: the fans spark with electricity when you turn them on, the windows leak when it rains, and the shower is always leaking into the rest of the bathroom. If she asks the landlord to fix things, he raises the rent, so she’s covered numerous repairs out of pocket. But despite all this, she says, “There’s people out there that have it worse than me.”
Cassandra’s best friend encouraged her to apply to Habitat. Cassandra kept saying, “I’m not the kind of person who gets chosen for things like that. I’m not deserving of that, I’m not worthy.” Her friend knew that she’d worked hard and that needing a hand-up from your community isn’t something to be ashamed of, so her friend put her in front of the application and wouldn’t leave until she filled it out.
Bryseida and CJ are 17 and 16 and are participating in sweat equity with their mom. The three are deeply enjoying the opportunity to spend time together. Cassandra says that Bryseida, who struggles with social anxiety, came out of her shell at the HabiStore. CJ is learning how to use tools and is growing in confidence under the mentorship of the Habitat construction team.
Cassandra’s youngest, Maya, is looking forward to the safety of the new home. They’ve experienced a couple of break-ins, which is nerve-wracking. Anytime she talks about the Habitat home, Maya says, “It’s going to be so safe there.” She says, “Home should be cozy.”
For CJ, a Habitat home gives him an opportunity to have an accessible shower for the first time. When he was very young, he was diagnosed with an extremely rare genetic condition affecting his legs and balance, which worries Cassandra.
Their new home will be a place where their family can be safe, comfortable, and express themselves.
“Home should be that place where you can go forever. Somewhere to go if they ever feel lost. A place where they know that they will always be loved and cared for and appreciated. I can tell you that my heart dropped when I found out I was going to be a homeowner.I knew that once again, God had answered our prayers.” —Cassandra