Mother and daughter Elonda Elston and Monae Latchison are overjoyed to be selected as the future Habitat homeowners for a project by the Illinois Solar Decathlon called RENU House—a Renewable, Economical, Nourishing, and Universal solar home. Having lived in Champaign-Urbana for the past eight years, Elonda and Monae share an appreciation for the diversity the area offers. Graduates of Parkland Community College, Monae is continuing her education in the IT program and working in home health care, while Elonda is training to work as a Professional Medical Records Specialist through the Department of Rehabilitation Ticket to Work program.
Elonda and Monae both see the value and importance of giving back to their community, and when they witnessed a previous next-door neighbor building a home with Habitat they helped with their neighbor’s volunteer hours, and were inspired to apply for acceptance into the Habitat home build program. Now that they have the opportunity to work with Habitat towards their own home, Monae says she has been surprised at the overwhelming kindness and welcome they have received. “After all these years of living here, it feels like for the first time we’re getting a proper welcome,” says Monae.
A survivor of breast cancer, Elonda expressed feeling like there was no hope of owning a home for her family due to employment limitations. Having a space where memories can be made and cherished will have a great impact on their family, says Monae, the youngest of five children in their family and future co-owner of their home.
While planning their goals for the future has been Elonda’s favorite part of the Habitat experience, Monae says her favorite part of the experience has been seeing different people from different backgrounds come together to give to others. Elonda hopes that the homebuilding experience will allow her children to see, “how the process of giving makes the reality of receiving possible.”
To the Habitat volunteers and donors, Elonda and Monae say, “From the bottom of our hearts to everyone that had anything to do with our dream, we thank you for your love, kindness, and support. This gift you’ve helped give to us is priceless. We pray that you are blessed by someone like you’ve blessed us!”