Marnita has been a Habitat homeowner for almost 18 years. She now works for Cincinnati Public Schools and describes kids as her passion. She's been in her current position for 7 school years.
Marnita has 3 children. "I call them my C kids," she said, since they all live in different cities starting with the letter C. Marnita's daughter lives in Columbus and does computer work. She recently moved into a home with her 5-year-old son. Marnita's youngest son is in Chicago working for the Chicago Science Museum. He's lived there for 8 years, completing both his bachelor's and master's degree. Currently, he is looking at schools to get his PhD. Marnita's middle child works as a security guard and baseball coach. He recently moved into a home in Mt Healthy. He has two children aged 10 and 4 months.
When Marnita was building their future home, her children were 14, 12, and 9. And when they moved in, Marnita's mom came with them. Marnita expressed the gratitude and joy she felt being able to bring her mother with her. Her mom did all the cooking and hosted family events in their new home. Marnita's mother has since passed away, and she said she didn't know how her mom managed to juggle it all. "Wow," said Marnita. "I don't know how my mom did it. It was a blessing for me." Marnita's mom was the one who pushed her to go back to school to earn both her associate degree and eventually her bachelor's degree. Because of the stability her house provided and because she had room for her mom to live with her, she was able to go back to school.
"If I didn't have this home, I wouldn't have had the degree that I have now. I wouldn’t have been able to push my kids to go to school or get the degrees they have," says Marnita.
She also remembers feeling nervous when she was first handed the keys to her home. "Am I going to be able to keep it up?" Homeownership comes with a lot of responsibilities, but with the vast Habitat network and the coursework required to own a Habitat home, new homeowners are prepared to maintain and care for their home. Marnita thinks that everyone should own their own home. She recommends filling out a Habitat for Humanity application and seeing what happens. "You never know, you got to try." Marnita originally filled out a Habitat application but then decided to not turn it in; she was too nervous. But eventually she decided that she had to try. She turned it in during the next application cycle and was accepted. She is so glad that she overcame her nerves and submitted her application. "This is the way to go. I believe in Habitat." Marnita and her family celebrated their first Thanksgiving in their new forever home shortly after moving in. Marnita can look back and say that, in her adult life, she's only moved twice. And in her kids' childhood, they only moved twice. This is a fact that she is proud of.
Marnita lives in Avondale, which she describes as a family-oriented area. She likes to walk around and look at all the houses, from the mansions to the new Habitat homes. "They're always building," says Marnita about the Habitat homes going up in her neighborhood. "Habitat has grown, they restore homes, I tell [people], if you want to be a homeowner, which you should--everybody should own their own home--Habitat is the way to go. And it's yours. You should have your own home."
"My oldest son asked me when he moved out 'Mom, what are you going to do with this big house?' I'm like, are you serious? I'm going to live here!" Marnita's home is full of memories, and it provides her a safe, affordable place to call home. "There's no way I could afford rent in another house, or to start over. So, this is it for me." She makes sure her family knows that they always can come back. "This will always be here; your room will always be upstairs. I'm going to be here."
"Having a habitat home, it fulfilled one of my dreams. Getting a college degree was another one of my dreams. And to just be healthy and be here for my kids, that's all three of my blessings answered… I'm able to provide for my home, keep a roof over my head, I have a car, I work not even a mile away. I'm able to still work with the kids in my community and to give back. That's what I'm able to do, so that's what having my home allows me to do."
Marnita is also passionate about softball. She developed her own softball organization in her community. She made 5 teams and set up a schedule so the teams could play each other. Now, this league has expanded. The Cincinnati Diamonds has players ranging from 5 to 14 years old. They travel to other cities for games and tournaments. "It allows me to get the girls out of the city and allows them to see what is outside of Avondale and Cincinnati," says Marnita. "I'm doing softball in the city. I chose to continue with it to keep the girls busy." She also makes her players participate in volunteer events, instilling them with the importance of giving back. "People are giving to you, you have to give back to them," Marnita tells her players.
Now that Marnita has an empty house, she misses the noise and fun that comes with having a full house. "When [my grandkids and great nephews] are here, even though they're loud, they're everywhere -- I love that. I love having kids here." Marnita used to be a foster parent, and she is thinking about going back into foster care. "The need is there, I have the space," says Marnita. "I have room to share."