Most days after her shift at HVO in Waynesville, Jackie drives by the construction site to check the progress of her Habitat house. She and her 9-year-old son are antsy with anticipation as they wait for a permanent place to call home.
At 41, she's raised four children as a single mom, scrimping to make ends meet, but she's never owned her own home. "I've paid rent my whole life and I'm tired of giving all my money to something that's not mine," she said.
As housing costs continue to rise in Haywood County, Jackie contemplated moving somewhere more affordable before she found Haywood Habitat.
"I've been divorced 12 years and ever since the divorce it's been a struggle. I've raised my children by myself while paying bills and moving around toting them along behind me," she said. "You just get to the point thinking 'Am I ever going anywhere?'"
Jackie decided to attend a Habitat information session. It was an exciting moment for her when she learned she'd been approved, but she was unsure about the sweat equity requirements with a full-time job and a son to take care of.
"When they told me how many hours I had to invest it kind of scared me - I didn't think I could get them done by myself, but I didn't realize there's so many options." Jackie works on the job site on Saturdays or takes her son with her to volunteer at the Habitat ReStore to get her hours.
"I love the neighborhood and I already know everyone there. My son is so excited to have other kids to play with - he has no one where we live now - but there will be a playground for him and for my grand-babies to have somewhere safe to play when they visit," she said.
After she's moved into her house, Jackie wants to stay involved in the organization to give back for all she's been given.
"I'm enjoying it so much. I did my orientation with another single mom, Amy, and I definitely want to help her through her process as well. I treat her like my own I guess. I'm so proud of what she's accomplished at such a young age. Even at 41, this is such a big accomplishment for me," she said.