Erika has long dreamt of providing a stable and secure home for her two children, Bella (5) and Giovanni (12), and their dog. Erika heard about Habitat for Humanity and its mission to build affordable housing through a friend, and she knew that it was her best chance to make her dreams a reality.

Though currently residing in Ellettsville, Erika’s journey began in Bloomington at the young age of 17, when she moved to the United States with her family and took her first job at a local restaurant downtown. That initial job marked the start of a remarkable relationship that continues to this day, as Erika remains dedicated to her work at the same restaurant.

“Ellettsville is a nice neighborhood, but my children attend school in Bloomington and my work is here in Bloomington. It’s very difficult to drive back and forth, coordinate schedules, and the fuel is expensive.”

The considerable demands of commuting, which limit the time she can spend making cherished memories with her children, combined with her strong desire to establish a stable foundation for them, prompted Erika to explore the possibility of homeownership through Habitat for Humanity.

“Moving to the United States as a teenager, I never imagined I would stay here—but as the years came and I saw my kids growing, I knew I had to establish myself here and that meant finding something that could be “our place.” It’s important to me to have a space to make good memories and a place where we can truly be ourselves.”

Erika first applied to Habitat in 2017. However, to her disappointment, she received a letter of denial. Undeterred, Erika refused to give up. Over the next few years, Erika continued to apply to Habitat, hoping that each application would be the one that would bring her closer to her goal of homeownership. Finally, in 2022, after multiple attempts, Erika received the news she had been longing for: her application had been accepted.

The excitement she felt upon being accepted was just a glimpse of what was to come. Since joining the program, Erika has enjoyed the ongoing learning and personal development aspects within the program—from taking care of a house to managing finances and building relationships with future neighbors.

I get the opportunity to learn. The relaxation classes were a good experience and so were the gardening classes. I have an opportunity to learn how to use construction tools with my own hands that I have never seen in my life. It was scary at first, because it’s something I didn’t think I could do or use, but when I finally did it, there was such a sense of accomplishment. I am able to learn how to maintenance my own house on the outside and inside…and that’s very cool.”

This September, construction of the family’s future home will begin in Habitat’s Osage Place neighborhood. The build is made possible by Women+ Build 2023. During this annual volunteer opportunity and fundraiser, women+ from all walks of life come together to build homes with families and individuals in need of safe, sustainable, and affordable housing in Monroe County.

“It’s exciting to know so many women+ are going to help build the home. I heard about Women+ Build, but I have never seen it—I know it’s going to be powerful to see them work.”

Erika’s story embodies the spirit of Women+ Build, serving as an inspiration to others who face obstacles and challenges. Her journey exemplifies the power of perseverance and the belief that dreams can be achieved with commitment and determination. Erika’s triumphant experience encourages others to embrace their own aspirations, knowing that with resilience and a steadfast spirit, they too can create a better future for themselves and their loved ones.

Erika’s home is sponsored by Women+ Build, an annual volunteer opportunity and fundraiser, women+ from all walks of life come together to build homes with families and individuals in need of safe, sustainable and affordable housing in Monroe County.