Working on a Dream

by Jonathan Dermid

Some might consider “The American Dream” a bygone ambition, the idea of owning one’s own home a pipe dream. Thanks to perseverance, hard work, and a caring community, the Ender family will soon realize their dream and purchase a home of their own.

“The American dream is to have a house of your own. Over the years, and coming out of a place of poverty, to try to get to that has been a struggle,” Michelle Ender said. “We’ve moved from New Jersey to Leicester to Weaverville to West Asheville. Not because we couldn’t pay rent, but something would happen where the landlord would be selling the home or something like that.”

After hearing about Habitat’s homeownership program through their church, the Ender family began the application process and was absolutely thrilled to be approved. “We know it’s not a giveaway; we have to pay a mortgage and work (do sweat equity). But thank God the house will be in our name and Habitat makes it possible to have affordable housing,” noted Michelle.

More than anything, Michelle looks forward to the sense of permanence that her own home will provide.

“With the kids now, we’ve moved 6 times, so just having a place to call our own, to decorate on our own, is wonderful,” she said. “It’s a place to call home, a place the kids can come back to when they’re older.” Adequate space is also desired, as they currently live in an overcrowded situation. Their youngest child sleeps on the couch.

On their journey towards homeownership, they are spending a good bit of time at the ReStore earning sweat equity hours and getting to know volunteers. “Becoming a homeowner through Habitat also shows you what it’s like to volunteer here…everyone is so positive and nice and welcoming and they obviously care.”

Eric Ender, Michelle’s husband, a handyman by nature, has found a niche in the appliance and electronics repair area. One of their (3) children, Eric Jr, is also volunteering in the ReStore alongside his dad. Sharing a passion for music and the technology involved, the father-son duo was very excited to learn of a sweat equity opportunity in the repair area. Brian Haynes, a ReStore Assistant Manager, is equally excited. “This is a big help to the ReStore as electronics had been piling up because we did not have anyone to test them.”

In addition to volunteering at the ReStore, the Enders have spent many hours helping to build their home and the homes of their neighbors. Echoing his wife’s sentiments about the hard work that goes into Habitat homeownership, Eric Sr. adds “Habitat houses are built with love, and you can feel that.”

The Enders 4-bedroom/2-bath home in West Asheville is the 17th Interfaith House, sponsored by a diverse coalition of local faith congregations.