Homeownership Jul. 19, 2017

How Habitat helped Ken survive and gave his family the chance to thrive

Wherever Ken goes, he leaves small cards behind him, advertising his two youngest daughters’ country band. Chelsea and Saleen write and sing their own music, competing at local music contests and playing at festivals and events. Like any proud dad, he’s doing his best to support his children’s dreams. Along with his wife Diane and their other two children, Austin and Kapri, they live in a Habitat home that is full of music, life and love – a home they helped build and pay for themselves. But the safety, security and comfort they feel today wasn’t always the case.

Suffering from emphysema, Ken needed a lung transplant

Six years ago, Ken was dying. His only dream was to have the chance to watch his kids grow up. Suffering from emphysema, he desperately needed a lung transplant. Their home was full of mold and cold, damp drafts, with too much of their money going to rent and heating and no hope of saving enough for a down payment in order to move out.

Unsafe for the whole family, their house was making a life-saving lung transplant an impossibility for Ken, whose doctors told him a healthy recovery would be hopeless in a home like that.

Diane was caring for a sick husband and four children that she knew might grow up without a father. That kind of stress was putting an immense weight on the whole family.

While Ken and Diane tried to protect their young children from the worst of it, they couldn’t hide how sick Ken was. The drafts that came in through their rented house or the mold that kept coming back no matter how many times they tried to bleach it away. The oldest of the children, Austin and Kapri, did their best – pretending everything was alright and helping their parents make life as normal as possible for Chelsea and Saleen, who were very young at the time.

That’s when Habitat for Humanity Durham started working alongside them to help build the family a suitable home. Like other Habitat homeowners, Ken and Diane put in 500 volunteer hours to help build their home and paid an affordable mortgage geared to their income.

Recovering in their Habitat home

Their Habitat home has made a lasting difference. Ken was approved for a lung transplant and was able to recover in a healthy home. He was also able to help raise his children, teaching them how to play the guitar and ukulele.

“I’m alive today and breathing because of Habitat for Humanity,” says Ken.

Today, the family continue to live in their Habitat home and act a spokespeople for their local Habitat, telling their story of how their Habitat home made a world of difference for not just Ken, but everyone in their family of six.

Watch Ken and Diane's Habitat story