HAMMOND | Rebecca Jackson-Sanchez kept a promise she made more than 20 years ago Sunday afternoon, and it made her a very happy homeowner.
“It’s like the end of a time where I was in need of help, and now it’s the beginning of great accomplishments in my life,” said Jackson-Sanchez after she paid off the mortgage on her Habitat for Humanity house..
Habitat for Humanity of Northwest Indiana recognized Rebecca Jackson-Sanchez and her family by hosting a mortgage burning ceremony.
Paying off a home mortgage is the final step of a partner family-affiliate agreement. The Jackson-Sanchez family is the second partner family of the Habitat affiliate to have done so.
The Jackson-Sanchez residence, at 5838 Erie Ave., is in a row of Habitat's "simple, decent homes for qualified, low-income families."
Habitat affiliate members past and present gathered with Jackson-Sanchez as she dropped copies of the mortgage into the flames.
“I was driving when I first heard about Habitat for Humanity. At the time, I was living in a home with a leaky ceiling and really bad conditions. I heard a commercial on the radio and thought, what the heck, and applied for a home.
"They turned me down because, at the time, I wasn’t able to meet the requirements. A year later, I received a call telling me I had qualified,” Jackson-Sanchez said.
Jackson-Sanchez failed to meet initial application criteria based on income. Once she established a consistent work record, her application was reconsidered.
Rosanna Fowler and Carl Strain were the first to help make homeownership possible for Jackson-Sanchez and her four children. Fowler made the initial home visit to the Jackson-Sanchez residence, and Strain was the construction supervisor of her new home.
“She had a ceiling caving in and an exposed heating unit emitting flames. The environment was too dangerous with little children running around,” said Fowler of Jackson-Sanchez's former home.
Once applications are reviewed, Habitat affiliate personnel visit the families in an effort to establish the partner-family relationship. Decisions are made based on partner-family need and application criterion.
“I raised four great kids in that house. One daughter is now in beauty school. To have paid off this home means I’ve done something tremendous for myself and my kids,” Jackson-Sanchez said.
“I felt like they never handed me anything," she said of Habitat. "It was side-by-side all the way. Every wall I painted and every imperfection I made in that home are mine. Those windows I helped put in are mine. That siding I helped put up is mine."
Each new Habitat partner family is required to fulfill 300 "sweat equity hours" helping build their home and volunteering in the affiliate ReStore.
“Becky and her family are a prime example of Habitats mission. If you stick with a goal, it will lead to better quality of life for your family,” said Executive Director Daniel Klein. “Today’s ceremony is proof that Habitat's mission and business model work for families in need."
For information on becoming a Habitat partner-family, volunteer or donor, call (219) 923-7265 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.