“We thought it was a fairytale and that it would never happen for us,” says Eva, “We never thought being homeowners was attainable. It was just a dream on a vision board.”
Eva and DJ are community builders. They are continually working to make Knoxville a better and more connected place, and they are raising their children to do the same.
Eva and DJ have been married for seven years. Together, they are raising three children: Dallas (7), Eniyah (5), and their nephew, Emanuel (13). Their family of five is constantly on the go, learning and experiencing the world around them. They spend their weekends exploring the Knoxville area and immersing themselves in culture and fun. They even started a YouTube channel where they share meals with local business and community leaders and interview them about their lives and work.
Aside from their weekend adventures and YouTube channel, Dallas plays on a football team with his dad serving as coach, Eniyah is a young entrepreneur with a successful lemonade stand, and Emanuel is a basketball player at his school. Eva works full-time as a receptionist at a nonprofit focused on child learning and engagement, and DJ works as an overnight shelf stocker at a grocery store.
This family is constantly on the go, and they are ready for a place of rest to call their own.
Right now, they live in a three-bedroom, one-bathroom rental, but it is becoming unaffordable. “Our rent and bills are just steadily going up,” Eva shares, “We have never had a utilities bill that was less than $400.” Their rental is old, and there are frequent plumbing leaks that increase their water bills and a constant need for repairs that have caused their rent to go up as well.
“I had to get a new job,” Eva says, “Our rent went up $100 and I had to stop teaching preschool. I loved teaching. It’s my passion. But I just couldn’t budget my bills with it. I had to find something else.”
Eva and DJ have watched the dream of homeownership become a reality through friends who have worked with Knoxville Habitat for Humanity.
“I watched some of my friends go through Habitat, and I just loved seeing them as a family build their home,” Eva says, “Habitat really prepares you for the home through budgeting classes and homeownership classes. I wanted that for us too. Habitat is really the best place that I know to get that experience.”
Eva and DJ were accepted into the Knoxville Habitat program on Eva’s birthday. They are excited to begin building their home in the new Ellen’s Glen neighborhood alongside family and friends who have already committed to volunteer on their build.
“Part of me doesn’t believe it. I won’t believe it until I come home from work and unlock the door with my key,” DJ says, “I’m just excited to have something that’s ours. It’s a blessing.”
Together they will have cookouts with friends, play sports in their yard, and fill their home with art, home cooked meals, and love. Because supporters like you are helping build their home, they will have a stronger foundation as they continue building community and spreading hope.