Connie Estrada & Her Journey to FVHH
Homeowner of the 2020 Faith Build Home
Hi, my name is Connie Estrada, and this is a glimpse into my life since coming to the United States.
I moved from Mexico to Aurora, Illinois when I was very young. I had two small daughters, Silvia and Malena, (who is now in Heaven) and a son, Freddy.
In Aurora, I found very good people that helped me to obtain items we needed to live like clothes, food, and medicine. They even helped us celebrate holidays by providing Christmas gifts and Easter dinners for my family. We had everything we needed except for a good home. For many years, we were always moving from apartment to apartment, I could never afford adequate living space for us.
One of our earlier encounters was when the four of us all shared a one room apartment, and then the landlord found out and asked us to move out on short notice.
Another time, while I was at work the landlord came around 9:00 PM and threw my children out in the street and locked up the doors of our apartment. My oldest daughter went to the nearest store and used the phone to call me at work. I left work immediately and since I had no car, I had to walk about 30 minutes to get to my children who were cold, scared, and abandoned in the street in the middle of the night.
After that, we rented an apartment in the basement of a house. The agreement was that we shared the kitchen with the people who lived upstairs. On several occasions, the woman upstairs would get upset about something and she would lock the door to the basement so we could not use the kitchen. I would not have access to the kitchen to make food for my family and several times we went to bed hungry.
As time passed, a friend with a kind heart came to me and told me that he had a room for us. He let me live there with my three children. Our lives began to change for the better. I had an opportunity to go to school to study English. I worked in a factory in the morning and studied in the afternoons, always taking my three children with me.
Three years later, I left the hard work at the factory and started working as a teacher's assistant. Two years later I was blessed with my fourth child, Erick, and then two years later, Jose.
I find it hardest to forgive myself after all these years that I did not fight hard enough so that my children, Silvia and Freddy would finished high school. Instead, they had to quit school to work and help me with the household expenses and childcare.
Over the years we rented many apartments. I even tried a few times to buy a home but was never able to get approved due to low income and mismanagement of my money.I applied for the housing program at Habitat for Humanity many years ago but was denied. I forgot about it and continued renting. My older children grew up moved out on their own and made their own lives. I still had my two youngest sons with me to raise.
I got sick a few years ago and could not live by myself, so Freddy, my oldest son, asked me to come live with him and his family. Erick was attending college in Chicago and Jose went to live with some friends. Then, one morning in April of 2019, I didn't feel like preparing breakfast at home so I went to have breakfast at a restaurant near the house. After I was done with breakfast, as I was driving home, I don't know how, but I found myself in front of Fox Valley Habitat for Humanity. I went inside and asked for information, they told me that in three days there would be an information meeting for the homeownership program. I attended the orientation and filled out the application in June 2019, after a few months I received a letter telling me that I had been approved. I couldn't believe it, but it was true! After all these years I was finally going to get a home to call my own.
And that's how it started. With the help of Debbi, Julie, and Barb, I began to work on my sweat equity hours to complete the requirements of the program. On December 7, 2019, we attended a home dedication for the Faith Build home for the Woods family. There were about 60 people celebrating the completion of the home and during the program, they surprised me and my family by announcing to everyone that I would be the next homeowner to get a Faith Build home for 2020 and that my house would be built on Parker Ave in Aurora. And now here I am, my house is finished and my long-lived dreams are coming true thanks to Fox Valley Habitat for Humanity, Thrivent and all the area churches who have given of their prayers, time and money. Everyone believed in me and are giving me the opportunity to have my own home.
Although I will be retiring soon, it's never too late to accomplish your dreams. Thanks to my loving children for their support and dedication and pushing me to do better. Thanks to God, not even Covid 19 can bring us down since we are survivors. We just have to have faith and hope to keep the dream alive.
Pictured from left to right, My children: Jose, Erick, Silvia, Freddy, step-children Alma and Jesse, and myself. Not pictured is my daughter Malena, who passed away many years ago