Nevada County Habitat for Humanity helps families move from struggle to success
August 18, 2013
Catherina Rosevear never planned to take custody of her two nieces, but could not bear her family members being placed in the foster care system.
She embraced the opportunity to care for the children three years ago, when her sister lost custody due to problems stemming from a prescription pill addiction, she said. It literally put Rosevear in a difficult living situation, as she was a single mom living with her mother in a house about 13 miles from town, laden with rats, rattlesnakes and a rotting deck, unfit for raising three girls.
Rosevear heard about Habitat for Humanity and applied in September 2012, underwent the extensive interview process and found out her family was selected in June.
"I was really excited for it," said Rosevear. "I felt like I almost didn't deserve it, but it was a huge relief because it was such a long process and I assumed we wouldn't have gotten it. I have to get my mind out of that mindset because my kids deserve this house. I'm very grateful for Habitat."
“I definitely learned the value of saving. The rewards are so much greater when you save than when you spend.”
Marcie McClure, Habitat for Humanity homeowner
Rosevear said the girls have not seen their mother, who has been homeless and in and out of jail, in more than a year and a half.
"I don't even know if she's alive," Rosevear said. "Normally my sister's (mode of operation) is she'll call all the time when she's drunk, but lately she hasn't called at all. When she was in Grass Valley, she was arrested a few times, but I don't know where she is. I think she's somewhere in Redding."
Going from being a relatively worry-free single mom with one child to having two additional children, who have been traumatized and bounced around the homes of different family members, was life-changing. .
"I was the only one cleared in my family to care for them through CPS, so I took them in," Rosevear said. "It was more of a 'I have to do this, there isn't much of a choice.'"
Her own mother is less than supportive about the help provided by Habitat for Humanity, an opinion Rosevear said she hopes to help turn around.
"I'm not a hand-out kind of person at all and I feel like it's a misunderstood opinion," she said. "My mom thinks it's just like this hand-out for a free house and that's not what it is at all."
Rosevear cares for the children with government assistance, but also operates a part-time cleaning business. Her credit, finances and responsibility were all assessed as part of the bigger picture, she said. Rosevear was told the building process could take up to two years, something she patiently awaits.
"I feel like this is an opportunity — like a kick-start," she said. "There are so many things they require and every time I had a new interview or home visit there was always someone different, so they all can collectively agree and there was no bias."
Rosevear was told the building process could take up to two years.
"I'm good with endurance," she said. "As long as I have a goal in mind I can be patient and wait. I feel like for the time we wait for it, the reward is greater, so it's definitely worth it."
After she has the new house, Rosevear plans to provide a better life for her daughters in a stable environment and to hopefully break the cycle of addiction in the family. She also plans to pursue her goal of attending beauty school, which she will be able to do once her situation becomes stable and she is in a better position to save money.
"I'll be the first homeowner of my entire family," she said. "What that means for me is breaking a generational curse. That's the most important thing in my life, so my kids don't get addicted to drugs when they're older. They deserve to be regular kids and when we get that house, they'll have that opportunity."
Another opportunity offered
Marcie and Jerry McClure and their children, Sarah, 17 and Dalton, 19, were able to experience a better opportunity after they moved out of their cramped double-wide trailer, when they were selected for a Habitat home 18 months ago.
The family rented a comfortable home in Cascade Shores and were suddenly given a 30-day notice when their landlord decided to sell the house.
"We just couldn't afford what was out there and didn't have any money saved," said Marcie McClure, the sole provider of the family. "We just weren't ready. Everything was over $1,000 for a three-bedroom, nobody let us have our animals and we already had to get rid of our home, we didn't want to have to get rid of our animals."
McClure's grandmother helped the family purchase the 600-square-foot trailer, which was originally part of a five-year plan that extended into 10 years. Dalton and his sister Sarah had only a curtain separating them in the front part of the house, and their parents shared the back room.
"When I was younger, kids would make fun of me because of where I lived," Sarah said. "It was really hard. I wouldn't be able to have a lot of friends come over. Everyone else had sleepovers and I'd go places, but wouldn't have as many people come over."
The trailer roof was so low, the family would have to duck to enter the doorway, and two people could barely stand in the same room. Because Sarah's room doubled as the living room, people would sit on and sometimes step on her broken futon bed, to her disgust, and nothing seemed clean.
"There was no landscaping, so mud would just track in," Marcie said. "I replaced the carpet once a year, would rip it out and screw it in. I put roof paper down to try to insulate the floors and sometimes put two layers of carpet."
The tile in the bathroom was freezing and light would shine through the faucet and shower because of the pipe placement. Frogs and slugs would enter through the gaps.
The McClures were able to put all of that behind them when they moved into their Habitat home on Whiting Street. Everyone has their own room, everything is clean and new and no one has to worry about being crammed.
"It definitely brought my family closer," Sarah said. "We were always in each other's business and once we moved, we were finally able to get our own space."
Marcie took to saving and re-establishing her credit to make sure the family would have the finances required for Habitat. The family saved as much as possible to buy all new things for the new home, knowing nothing was going to be brought from the trailer. With the excitement came a burning anticipation, as the estimated date for completion of the home kept changing.
"They kept giving us dates and it went further and further," Sarah said. "It became more of an, 'OK, I'll believe it when I see it.'"
In that time, Marcie saved for three years so she could never have to deal with the old and dirty things, which led to her decision to pay extra for hardwood floors so the family would never have to deal with carpet again.
"You are given allowances and get to pick out your stuff. Habitat has a number of what they will pay for floors and I said I want hardwood floors for the whole house and will pay extra and they said OK," Marcie said. "We were at the house Christmas Day installing stairs and me and my husband, mom and dad had installed the entire bottom floor."
"My family really stepped up and helped," she said. "We watched it grow, watched the floorboards go in and we did it."
Marcie purchased all new beds and bedroom sets and furniture for the family as soon as they knew the day they would be able to finally move into the house.
"I had never spent so much money in my whole life in three hours!" Marcie laughed. "We had already gone to Ashley Furniture and arranged for everything to be delivered Friday."
From the experience, Marcie said she learned how to save and budget, which was difficult.
"All that really helped the reward — being able to spend it and buy all the things for them," she said. "I definitely learned the value of saving. The rewards are so much greater when you save than when you spend."
Since moving into the house, the family has experienced less stress and more freedom and happiness, they said. The family also has a renewed sense of self esteem and pride, and Jerry, a retired logger took to beautifying the yard and growing an impressive garden.
"He had little self-esteem. It takes a toll on a man, not being able to have a good home for his family," Marcie said. "We've grown a lot. He has his yard that he loves and people will come and take pictures of it. He believes he has a good house and home and he's so much happier. He smiles."
Sarah said after moving into the new home, she gained a sense of confidence.
"I felt a lot of pressure," she said. "I had done bad in school, so that was hard on me and I knew I could do better and once we go the house I was able to be social, and our family gets along so much better. I know it wasn't just the house, but everything. All of us had this weight on us that when we finally got out was just so much better."
The family also enjoys the community and inclusive aspect of Habitat, where they socialize with neighbors and incoming families. Marcie said she is glad her children can at last appreciate the present after living through a difficult past.
"It's a good feeling for my kids that they have something to be proud of and at the same time I'm glad they have that experience of coming from that and appreciating what they have now," she said.
Sarah said she learned how to handle challenges from the hardship she saw her mother face.
"Watching my mom go through that process has helped me realize how it's going to be when I'm on my own," she said. "I've seen my mom struggle and cry and want to pull her hair out over what she's going to do and what's going to happen next, but watching her has made me feel better. She budgets herself. She's definitely my hero."
To contact Staff Writer Jennifer Terman, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4230.