After her husband was killed in 2007, Dana Dixon was forced to live in her mother’s 200-square-foot garage when she couldn’t make enough money to cover the rent at her old house. Now, Fox 40 reports that the single mother from Sacramento received the keys to a brand new house that she helped build with her labor, all thanks to Habitat for Humanity.
After her husband passed away, Dana was forced to take up several jobs in order to take care of her three children. The family tried living at a public housing project, but the daily violence, shootings and uncertainty was too much for Dana so she moved into her mother’s garage.
While her daughter slept on a couch, the two boys shared a bed. The garage was also not built to be a residence: it had no heating, air conditioning, running water or a bathroom. Just when she thought she was at her breaking point, Dana says she received an opportunity that was both a challenge and a blessing.
Habitat for Humanity accepted Dana into their program in 2013, but under with one condition. She was required to put in 500 hours of sweat equity, which meant that she had to work on other people’s houses, as well as her own, in order to be in a position to earn her house. Dixon called the work a “labor of love” and spent countless days hammering, painting and building houses on top of working at her other jobs.
Laine Himmelmann, a spokesperson for Habitat for Humanity, explained that the organization does not offer handouts, but “hand ups.” She observed how hard Dana had to work to achieve her dream of owning a house, in spite of the challenges that she faced.
The back-breaking work and her living situation almost broke her stride, but Dana said that she was not a quitter, and refused to give up even when it was all she felt like doing. In the end, her hard work paid off when, 9 years after moving into the tiny garage, she finally received the keys to a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home with a zero percent interest mortgage.
Now, she can hardly describe how delighted she is to have a family home to call her own. She said the best part was seeing the children decorating their own rooms and finally having their own space.