Jewel has lived in her Habitat home for six years now. She has one son, who is currently looking to find his own place, and recently got married.
Personally, Jewel has moved at least 4 or 5 times before finally buying her own home through the Habitat homeownership program. These moves aren’t including all the times she had to move as a child with her mother. “[Even after two months of living here,] I was still getting that giddy feeling,” says Jewel. She was fortunate to buy her house right before her grandma passed away. To her, becoming a homeowner was extra meaningful because of her grandma, as she was the first and only person in Jewel’s family to actually own her own home. It was special that she got to share her journey to homeownership with her grandma. “There’s still a joyous feeling to say—wow! I’m a homeowner.”
“I made my vision board say, ‘from here, you’re going to a house, and you want to have ownership.’”
“Because you’re a homeowner, it gives you more stake, ... more interest in how the community is developing because you have interest in the things that come around,” says Jewel. This is why Jewel has become so passionate about community engagement. She has worked on many community projects from assisting with plans for a park and local revitalization projects.
“Owning a home makes me want to be a part of the community more,” says Jewel. She also has been deeply involved with Habitat events in her community. Rock the Block is a Habitat event that she is very passionate about. Jewel has also attended council meetings and met with city officials to make changes in her neighborhood. One issue she felt strongly about was setting quiet hours for the train intersection near her home. She worked with a neighbor to try and get the train conductors to stop blowing the horns during night hours. Although her petitioning did not deliver the outcome she wanted, the experience taught her the importance of using your voice in your community, to advocate for the changes that you want to see. Jewel says that upon moving into her new neighborhood, it was important for her to find out “how I could be of service to the community.”
Jewel is also very passionate about staying active. Her job as a Project Coordinator for the Drug and Poison Information Center at Cincinnati Children’s allows her to attend events and develop projects in the Cincinnati area. She is able to work with residents to relay important information in an easy-to-understand way. She’s also a part of her church’s choir and volleyball team. Jewel is someone who loves to connect with others.
Jewel takes pride in her home. She said that owning a home taught her son an important lesson about responsibility. Coming from having landlords or parents there to fix everything or help out, Jewel thought that being in charge of her home would be overwhelming. However, she learned that she had a community of support to lean on. From Habitat employees to her partner family group to new neighbors, she found herself with a new directory of contacts she could reach out to if she ever needed guidance or help.
After living in her home for six years, Jewel finally feels like she’s made the place unique. “It’s time to make it your own,” she told herself after she hit the two-year mark of living there. “I think I was inspired by my neighbors." Just from exploring the first floor, you can see how Jewel has added bright colors, pictures, backsplashes, and artwork to transform her house into her home. “I’m still elated today,” says Jewel about her home.
“I like to host, to be the guide,” says Jewel. She likes to make people feel welcome in her home and prides herself on how warm and inviting her home is. She frequently hosts her church groups and church choir for gatherings and practices. Her home is her safe haven. “During the [Covid-19] Pandemic, it was great to know that I had a home to come home to," says Jewel.
To future homeowners, Jewel gives this advice: get to know your neighbors and stay a part of your partner groups. To Jewel, building a support system and engaging with your community are essential parts of homeownership.
Watch her full interview: