Tonya and her family

Tonya's Family Story

Daughter's Christmas Wish Comes True

Tonya describes her journey to Pikes Peak Habitat as “kind of a long but short story.”

Originally from Baltimore, she and her family moved to El Paso County in 2015 to stay with her father, who has since passed. “I was going through a lot of hardships in Maryland, and I just wanted a change,” she explains.

Although she’s had her share of struggles here, too, Colorado is where she plans to remain. “I love the weather! I love the fact that you get all four seasons in one day,” she says. “Compared to where I’m from, it’s just so peaceful! I’m not in fear of my children growing up here. I don’t feel like if my son goes to the store, he won’t make it home, or if my girls go somewhere they won’t make it home.”

Still, life here hasn’t been easy for Tonya. When her relationship deteriorated and she lost her job, she and her four children moved into a shelter. “I was on TAP and food stamps, and from the shelter I went into Partners in Housing,” she explains. “I had a caseworker with TANF, and she told me in 2018 to put my name on the Habitat for Humanity list.”

Between then and now, Tonya has completed career training and found a rewarding job in the transportation sector.

“I love driving! I love talking to people, helping people,” she says. And she likes the variety and freedom she experiences at work: “I’m enjoying fresh air, and I’m sightseeing, and I’m meeting all kinds of people from all different walks of life.”

She also tries to provide assistance to people in need of help, whether that’s sharing food or offering someone bus fare. “When you put that out in the world, not wanting anything in return, not thinking of anything, it kind of comes back around full circle, without you expecting anything, in a way that you can’t even imagine,” she says.

Right now, she, her kids, and her grandson share a three-bedroom apartment. They’re crowded, and the area isn’t great. “My children don’t go outside where I’m at,” she explains. “I’ve never been able to turn them outside so they can go play. That’s just not a community that I’ve lived in.”

Moving into their Pikes Peak Habitat home—which will have five bedrooms—is a dream come true for Tonya because it represents safety for her family.

“I’ve always told my kids that this is what I wanted,” she says. “I wanted to have a home for us so that none of my kids would have to be with somebody because they don’t have nowhere else to go. I’ve slept places that I wasn’t welcome, nor was I comfortable, because I had nowhere to go. I never had a home.”

She explains, “I’ve never had a house where I could even put pictures up on the walls. It was always a blank for me. It was always a house, just temporary, never a home. This’ll be the first time I was able to put pictures up, lay down roots, stop and smell the roses—grow roses!”

And her family loves to cook together, so they’re excited about having a kitchen large enough to accommodate them all. Spaghetti is one of their favorite meals to make together, and for holidays they each prepare their own special contributions. Hers is baked mac and cheese, while her oldest daughter brings sweet potato pie and her son specializes in cake.

She looks forward to her younger children being able to play outside safely and meet other kids. “I’m looking forward to seeing all the kids out playing hopscotch and all the fun games we used to play when I was younger!” she says. “I feel safe around there. I feel like we’re all going to watch out for each other, and this is where my younger kids and my grandson is going to grow up.”

Tonya’s desire to give her children stability and a better life is a powerful motivation for her.

Girls with baby
Tonya's daughters

“I asked my daughter, my eight-year-old, two years ago—before Habitat for Humanity called me or e-mailed or anything—two years ago, I asked my daughter what does she want for Christmas, toys or a home?” Tonya recalls. “And she said she wanted a home.”

Tonya's family standing by a lake
Tonya's daughter and grandson

She couldn’t wait to start working on her sweat equity. “It wasn’t as easy as I thought it was, but I love it!” she says. “I want to see how everything is done from the inside out. I want to be hands-on, and I’m a future homeowner, so if anything needs to be fixed, I want to know firsthand or possibly learn how I can either fix it or what it takes to get fixed, or just be able to explain to somebody exactly what needs to be done.”

She’s also started to meet the people who will form her new community. When she helped install sod at a neighbor’s yard, the homeowner came outside to check on her. “That’s something that I see on TV!” says Tonya. “Coming out with lemonade and asking if you need anything. It feels good!”

She appreciates the many volunteers who devote their time to helping build Pikes Peak Habitat’s homes and community. “It makes me hopeful that this world is not as bad, because if you’re sitting in the house all day and you’re just watching the news all day, you really feel like we’re doomed,” she observes. “But when you get out there and you’re in the world and you come across people like the volunteers, it’s hope. We’re not doomed. It’s good people in this world.”

She adds, “Love conquers all, and when you love from a spot that’s so deep within yourself, you give that back out. Like a shining star—you can’t dim a shining star, and the volunteers are all stars. They’re rock stars.”


About the Fund for Humanity

Created in 1968 and predating the establishment of Habitat for Humanity International, the Fund for Humanity began as the method of accomplishing partnership housing at Koinonia Farm. The concept centered on those in need of adequate shelter working side by side with volunteers to build decent, affordable houses. The houses would be built at no profit. New homeowners’ house payments would be combined with no-interest loans provided by supporters and money earned by fundraising to create “The Fund for Humanity,” which would then be used to build more homes.

Fund for Humanity logo

Today, The Fund for Humanity refers to a collection of funding sources, including capital from loan sale programs, loan payoffs, monthly Habitat mortgage payments, unrestricted fundraising, and net proceeds from the ReStore.

The Fund for Humanity helps finance every home we build! However, a Fund for Humanity Build references a home that was wholly supported by the Fund.