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10 years in a Habitat home

 
 

 “The whole point in giving back is to help someone do better – uplift them to grow and to learn, have their children grow, and get more people involved in giving back.”

– Dawn Davis 

10 years ago, Dawn Davis and her son, Elijah lived in a one-bedroom apartment where their needs as renters were not being met. Dawn took action in the form of pursuing a homeownership opportunity with Habitat. In 2009, she and Elijah moved into their new home on Wanamaker Street in West Philadelphia – forever changing the tides for her and her son’s lives.  

When Dawn started her Habitat journey, she worked two jobs while completing her 350 hours of sweat equity. She took advantage of the money saving programs Habitat offered to build her credit and ensure that she was prepared for this new opportunity and responsibility.  

Being prepared for life’s challenges is something Dawns father taught her. He was present at her home dedication and watched proudly as his daughter turned a key that unlocked new opportunities. Dawn’s father passed away from stomach cancer shortly after she and Elijah’s first celebration at the home, a neighborhood block party. However, his legacy lives on within the walls that he helped Dawn construct for her family. “He got me where I am today because he prepped me for this.”   

Dawn holding her friendly pup, Nemo in her home on Wanamaker Street.

A lot has changed over the past 10 years. Now, Elijah is 18 and ready to graduate high school. He plans get his associates degree and train to become an electrician. Dawn works as the General Manager at a Philadelphia Wawa, a company she dedicated her time to for 22 years.

Dawn still holds a block party in honor of her father. She invites neighbors new and old to celebrate together as a community. Even neighbors that have moved away return to Wanamaker Street for Dawn’s event. This year’s party will be especially grand for Elijah’s graduation. Dawn is so proud of her son. “I’d have a whole marching band for him if he let me.” 

A decade later, Dawn still looks back fondly at her time in Habitat’s Homeownership Program. Just the thought that volunteers dedicated their time to help her build her home moves her to tears.  “These people build homes because want to, not because they have to. When you put positive vibes out into the world it all comes back to you.” Dawn keeps a book of the signatures of all the people at Habitat that helped her throughout this process and even wrote handwritten notes to some.  

She values the hope that Habitat gives others. “The whole point in giving back is to help someone do better – uplift them to grow and to learn, have their children grow, and get more people involved in giving back. It’s a never-ending process that you want to continue in order to build up the community through good rapport and positive attitudes.”