There is nothing more important to Thelma than providing a better future for her family.
Thelma is a single mom to her daughter, Kehlani (4). Together, they love playing with their puppy, swimming, eating good food, watching movies, and going to the park. Thelma lovingly talks about her daughter, saying, “She is changing me for the better.” Thelma spends as much time with her daughter as she can, and she enjoys watching her grow and become her own person.
When Thelma isn’t caring for her daughter, she is working at one of her three jobs to provide for her family. She is a server at two restaurants, and she works in housekeeping. Thelma shares, “I’m always busy, but it’s good stress, not bad stress.”
Currently, Thelma and Kehlani live in a two-bedroom apartment, but the rental prices are rising sharply, and the consistent maintenance problems have made it difficult to find stability and peace of mind. The roof leaks into their apartment, causing mold to grow inside. The stove is old and rusted, and Thelma is having to pay for the replacement. The air conditioning has gone out every summer since they moved in five years ago, and her landlord does not make it a priority to fix it. Thelma says, “I had to pay to have someone come out and fix the air conditioning myself because they just wouldn’t do it.”
Earlier this year, Thelma was considering moving her daughter out of Knoxville in search of more affordable living. “We bought plane tickets and left to live with a friend while I searched for a new job,” Thelma shares. “After a few months, it wasn’t working out, and I wanted to come back, so we flew home. When I got back to Knoxville, there was a letter waiting for me that I had been accepted into the Knoxville Habitat for Humanity program.”
Thelma is excited to begin building her affordable home with Knoxville Habitat for Humanity. Her new home will provide her family with stability, privacy, and a sense of achievement and independence.
Thelma says, “It’s going to give me a satisfaction of ‘I finally did it’ after times when I’ve doubted. I am happy to be moving into the next chapter of my life, and I am proud of myself for all the work I have done to get here. I always wanted my daughter to have things I’ve never had. A house is going to be one of those.”
Thelma’s new home will also open opportunities for her to continue her education and pursue her dream of becoming a real estate agent. “It’s been something I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” Thelma expresses, “It would be a career versus a daily job.” Having her home will give her the space and strength she needs to pursue her dreams and create a better future for her family.
Thelma says, “I am ready to flip the page. I am right here, finishing up this chapter, and I am definitely ready for the next one. It will be filled with opportunities and freedom.”