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2020 Impact Report

Habitat Repairs


Ken’s Story

Veteran U.S. Army Ranger Ken moved into his North Philadelphia home two years ago, and immediately knew it was special to the neighborhood. The home stands tall with stone pillars and a gated front yard at the heart of Strawberry Mansion.

“This house is special to the community,” says Ken.

Unfortunately, Ken quickly realized that like much of the other aging housing stock in Philadelphia, his new home was in need of extensive repairs.

“I put the pressure on me to fix it myself,” said Ken.

The bathroom was a center of stress for Ken in his home. He needed extensive plumbing repairs, flooring, and a new toilet, shower, vanity, and sink. While working to make these repairs himself, Ken joined his local YMCA to gain access to a working bathroom. The back-and-forth to the YMCA and constant stress of repairing his home added an extra layer of anxiety to Ken’s daily life.

Through another veteran, Ken learned of the Habitat Philadelphia Veteran Corps Home Repair Program. He applied and a year later, he met the Habitat team and Craig, our Repair Site Supervisor.

Craig oversaw the work on Ken’s home, and the two instantly formed a friendship over their shared past as Army Veterans. Ken enjoyed working and learning alongside Craig:

“He’s direct and he’s good at what he does,” said Ken. “He took the time to explain to me what I already knew, but he also wanted to tell me anything extra he was doing. I’m a team player—Army life is a team, but you stand alone when you’re making your moves. That was so much more comforting to have [Habitat Repair Team] as a backdrop.”

Craig, Habitat Home Repair Supervisor helping a volunteer on site.

After completing the Habitat repairs in early March 2020, Ken now has running water and a completely new bathroom. Habitat repaired the floor and updated the toilet, vanity, sink, shower, and showerhead. Ken no longer needs to visit the YMCA solely for a functioning bathroom. He can focus on his health and well-being and feel comfortable in his own home.

“Just getting up in the morning and being able to take a shower is a wonderful thing,” Ken said. “I’m finally able to make it the house that I want.”

With critical repairs complete, Ken continues to make this house his home. To enhance his home as a staple structure in the neighborhood, now he is dedicating time and energy into painting a mural for the community on his gate.

The mural, directed to the youth of the neighborhood, will “stand for holding chance to what you want to dream about, and holding chance to what you want to achieve in life,” says Ken. After working alongside Craig and the Habitat Repair Team to make his home safe, warm, and dry, the beauty and craftsmanship that has made Ken’s home an anchor in the neighborhood for years now extends inside as well.

Ken and son, Benaiah