A Loving Mom of Three Children
Cristal and her 3 boys are one of our newest partner family
Cristal Lopez is a single mother of three boys. As a single mom, she is constantly struggling to make ends meet. Cristal has always wanted to become a homeowner, but due to other financial priorities, she thought her situation was preventing this from happening until she found out about the Fox Valley Habitat for Humanity Homeownership Program. Her long path to achieving her dream of owning a home officially began when her family was accepted into the program in early October of 2020 and although she still has a long journey ahead of her, she is very excited to be able to finally achieve her dream.
Cristal Lopez was born in Chicago, Illinois. Her father was a political refugee that emigrated to the United States from Cuba and her mother was born in Puerto Rico. She grew up with six siblings in a blended family. Her father was incarcerated while Cristal was still at an early age, leaving her mother to raise her family as a single mom. Their family was constantly moving from apartment to apartment and she would have to share rooms with her two younger brothers until she was 14 years old. Cristal then graduated from Hoffman Estates High School, attended Community College for interior design, then started working at a collection agency, where she met, Anthony.
In 2009, Cristal and Anthony decided to move in together and in December of that year, their first son was born. As time progressed, Cristal began to learn about Anthony’s alcohol addiction and other bad habits. While they were attending worship services at Faith World in Bolingbrook, the pastor said they should get married since they had a child. Cristal and Anthony eventually married in November of 2011, but like most women going through these types of situations, she thought she could help make their relationship better if she just worked harder at it. Unfortunately, the title of being married didn’t change much about the relationship. Things were getting so bad and out of control. After their second son was born in 2014, she prayed this would fix things with their marriage, but having another child just made matters worse, so in 2016, Cristal filed for a divorce.
They reconnected after they were divorced and in April or 2020, Cristal gave birth to their third son. This was a very difficult time for the family. Cristal was bed-bound for a few weeks after giving birth and could not take care of her three children. Due to Covid and the safety guidelines that were implemented, her mother was the only one who was able to help her during this time.
Cristal and her sons currently live in a very small single-family rental with their two dogs Siri and Gizmo. One of her goals for her family is to own a home they can grow up in. Due to her financial limitations, this goal seemed unattainable. Her top financial priorities are rent, daycare, car note, and food, but she finds herself just barely getting by. She has been in this cycle since 2009 and her credit hasn’t been the best, so she could never qualify to own a house. Then, while talking with one of her coworkers, they told her about the Habitat for Humanity homeownership program. Cristal was unsure about the program at first because she thought that the program was only for people with disabilities or people with children who have disabilities, she didn’t realize that the homeownership program was for anybody that qualifies.
She decided to check the Fox Valley Habitat for Humanity website for their next homeownership orientation meeting and signed up to attend the meeting via Zoom in March of 2020. She submitted her application in June and waited patiently for some word on her application, but due to the pandemic, no one was working in the office to process her application. But finally, in September, Debbie Albright, Director of Operations, called her back to inform her that her application had been approved. Cristal remembers that she was in shock after receiving the call because she thought that she was going to be denied. Cristal started her homeownership process in October and her family was recently chosen to be the recipients of the 2021 Faith Build Home.
As part of her willingness to partner, her family was given 350 sweat equity hours to complete. Cristal has been volunteering at the affiliates ReStore and working at the build sites of other future FVHH homeowners to earn her sweat equity hours. Cristal had never volunteered at any non-profit organizations before, but being one of the Habitat families has inspired her to continue to volunteer even after she is done with her hours. She was very nervous to start volunteering, but as she has gotten to know everyone, she now considers them to be family. She loves the interactions with the customers at the ReStore, because they all want to hear her story and find out more about the organization. She has found that some of them are not aware of what Habitat for Humanity’s mission is. Cristal enjoys being an advocate and a spokesperson for the organization and likes to help correct any misconceptions that customers might have about the organization and inform them of the good that Habitat does.
Much like her kids, Cristal is also very excited about owning her first home. Since Cristal’s first passion was interior design, she is able to live her dream of owning her home and having the power to design it exactly the way she wants to. She has many things on her wish list that she would like to see in the new home. She would like a white house with a teal door, side shutters on the windows, a large porch with a short flight of stairs to resemble a modern farmhouse style. Cristal loves painting and she wants to paint anything she can herself. They would also like a big yard for the kids and dogs to play in. She wants to fill her house with succulents, and have oak and blossom trees in the front yard.
Cristal is extremely thankful for Fox Valley Habitat for Humanity and its contributors for allowing her to become a future homeowner. She would advise anyone who thinks they might qualify to become a homeowner to just apply, because she had no idea how much Habitat for Humanity would change her life and it could help so many others. She also wants everyone who can, to donate or volunteer to the organization, because it truly changes people’s lives. After Cristal receives her house, she wants to continue to help Fox Valley Habitat for Humanity whenever she can because she is eternally grateful for everything the organization has done for her. She feels blessed to be in the position that she is in and feels very inspired when hearing that so many people are helping her to achieve her dreams.