Benani-Laaziz Family

HassanBenani and MaryamLaaziz2 (300x210)I moved to the United States in 1998 right after high school. My family of five lived in a $35/month one bedroom apartment; the mold should have paid half of the rent. The apartment was dark since it only had two small windows. I won an immigration lottery that USCIS has every year. That year, I was one of 3,000 recipients of the immigration visa.

I moved to New York, where I lived for over three years, trying to better my family’s life. In New York, we were able to move to a better apartment with large two bedrooms for around $150/month. It still did not provide enough room for all us, but it was well lit and a lot healthier.

In 2001, I came to visit a friend and fell in love with Madison – it was spring time and I didn’t know the winters were this brutal. I decided to move here.

On Jan. 22, 2009, I suffered a heart attack. I was a week into my new insurance policy. My claims were declined due to a pre-existing condition. I ended up with a $60,000 health bill which led to me filing for bankruptcy. Right then I thought I never would be able to own a house. I felt that way until I attended a Habitat for Humanity meeting.
I met my wife in October 2009 after a visit to the home land. A year later she came to the United States. In less than a year, we were blessed with Salma (August 2011) and Rayan (September 2013).
Hope is what Habitat for Humanity gave us. To have a place that we can call home has been a dream for generations in our families. Thanks to God and Habitat for Humanity, that dream is becoming a reality.

We truly appreciate the work that everyone in Habitat for Humanity and all its volunteers do to better people lives, to better communities and to give our children a better future.

Sincerely yours,  Hassan & Maryam

Woodring Family

Lauren Woodring - Preferred PhotoMy name is Lauren Woodring. I was practically born and raised in Madison. Aside from some moving around in my pre-teen and teen years, I have always called Dane County my home. I have two young boys, Cameron and Ethan. They are the light of my life, and truly my purpose, and the reason I persevered and continued to push through some of the hard years of my life. Everything I do is for them, to follow my calling and to give them a hope and a future!

I was raised in a middle class home with every opportunity for greatness. But, as many do, I took all of the luxuries I was provided for granted and ended up making choices that ultimately lead to many years of struggling. At a young age I was a far beyond my years mentally, and no one’s advice or intervention attempts would hinder me from taking the road I ultimately wanted to travel.

When I was 25 years old, I found out that I was pregnant with my oldest son Cameron and it was the happiest day, ever! Little did I know that this single event would have a domino effect that would change my entire life! Leading up to this time, the lifestyle that I was choosing was toxic to not only me, but those around me. All of a sudden I realized that there is more at stake than just my own selfish wants and needs. I was about to bring a handsome, bright, lively, smart caring and kind young man into this world, and I did not want him to choose the same path that I had so foolishly chosen, or suffer at my expense. While attending a friend’s baby shower in 2012, I met my son’s Godmother and the rest is history! I developed a relationship with The Lord Jesus, started attending church, and growing in my faith!

Today, three years later, I have been blessed with an amazing job with The State of Wisconsin. I am a passionate member of my church, R Church, located on the west side of Madison. I serve on the host team as well as in media. I enjoy volunteering with The Pregnancy Helpline of Dane County as well as the various activities my children enjoy in our community. In September 2014, I gave birth to my second beautiful son, Ethan. He is such a happy, funny, smiling ray of a sunshine baby, and as a single mother I want to be able to give my boys a stable home environment that I was given growing up.

Owning a home to me is more than just four walls. It is safety and security. It is memories and laughter, discussions around the dinner table and the place you always return to. Home is where the heart is, and I am so incredibly thankful that I was accepted into the Habitat for Humanity program. It was truly a gift from God, and the more I learn about the program, the more my heart desires to give back to this charitable organization. Watching videos of other families giving their testimony, and seeing them build their homes from the ground up brings tears to my eyes. I can hardly believe that this is becoming a reality for me and my boys, and I am over the top excited for what the future holds for us!

Habitat’s mission and purpose is truly benevolent and selfless. You are changing people’s lives and making a difference. From the bottom of my heart, thank you! We are so appreciative for all that you do for our family, and other families in Dane County, and around the world!

Orth Family

Vicki Orth FamilyI was born and raised in Viroqua, WI. I grew up on a dairy farm with my parents, one sister and one brother. My father is now retired and still lives in Viroqua. My mother is in heaven.

We moved to Madison in 2005. I am a single mother with two children – Alexa and Devon. I work at Copps in Monona. My children are both students at Badger Rock Middle School. We belong to St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church in Monona.

Alexa and I share a love of reading. Alexa also has a very passionate love for all animals. Alexa has always wanted a dog, but where we live now, we are not allowed to have one.

Devon enjoys video games and cars. He has a surprising knowledge of cars for someone his age. Devon also loves cats and would like to have one. But where we live now, we cannot have a cat.

I also enjoy cooking and baking. I enjoy going online and trying new recipes.

We received news of our acceptance a few days before Christmas. We were all overwhelmed with joy. Alexa called it a Christmas miracle. A home will mean the world to me. I’m so happy to now be able to give my children the opportunities that I otherwise would not be able to provide them if not for the generosity of Habitat for Humanity of Dane County. Thank you to the Habitat staff and volunteers who work so hard to help families dreams come true. Your hard work, selflessness and devotion to helping the families of this and other communities is amazing. We feel truly blessed and grateful to partner with Habitat for Humanity of Dane County.

Dahn Family

Dahn Family 1My name is Roosevelt Dahn, and I am from Liberia, West Africa. I was born and raised in Liberia. I immigrated to the United States in 2010. However, my family was separated due to financial situation because I was unable to pay for everybody’s visa during the time of my departure leaving my wife and four kids back in Liberia.

After I came, I was worshiping with St. Paul Lutheran Church on North Sherman Avenue in Madison, because it was closer to where I was first living. Before then, I was a Methodist Church member in Liberia. I love helping people and decided volunteering at St. Paul Lutheran every Wednesday in the food pantry.

Two years later, I returned to Liberia to see my family. Nothing had ever bothered me more than seeing my family during my last visit to Liberia in 2012 and leaving them behind me again to return to the great land of freedom and opportunity. After I returned, things were tough on me especially missing my family and loneliness. I never thought that I was going to get my family here with me.

But with the grace of God, I one day told my pastor at St. Paul Lutheran about my family situation in Liberia. He immediately promised to give me a financial support to bring my family here. I was excited because it was a first miracle God has ever done for me in this country. Before the end of 2013, I was finally reunited with my family here in Madison. Currently, my family and I are full members of the St. Paul Lutheran Church.

One day, a friend of mine who Habitat partnered with to build a home, told me that I could be eligible for a Habitat’s home if I apply. I was also excited about the news because I needed a bigger place for my family. I have a household of seven members where we all share a three bedroom apartment. My older daughter, who will be 16 this August, doesn’t have her own bedroom.

Presently our neighborhood does not feel safe for us because there is a lot of smoking and sometimes shooting going on around the community. When I was selected for Habitat’s homeownership program back in November 2014, I was very happy about it because I needed to relocate my family and it came as a miracle to me.

My kids will now be able to share a room with only two persons per a bedroom. It is unbelievable what a great job Habitat for Humanity of Dane County is going to do for us. We thank you Habitat for this wonderful opportunity, and we can’t wait to see us entering into our new home this fall season.

Vang Family

Vang Family (6)My family and I are overjoyed and blessed to have been accepted to the Habitat for Humanity of Dane County program.  The moment we received the wonderful news that we were accepted into the program, we were so happy to finally have a place to call home. Some of us were thrilled and some of us were in shock and thought this was just a dream. Thanks to Habitat, our dreams and hopes of having a home are becoming true.

My husband, Vang Ge, and I started our family in Thailand with practically nothing to begin with as we were orphans. The first few years of our marriage we had lived with my husband’s relatives and had no parents to lean on when we needed a shoulder the most. As a parent, I would not want my children to have the same experience as my husband and I of not having a home. After many years of working and saving we managed to move out and live on our own. On Sept. 9, 2004, we immigrated to the United States. We have always dreamed of having a home that we can build family memories.

Even though my two oldest daughters will not be able to build their memories with our new home as they are now married; I am grateful my six younger children will have a chance to cherish every moment in our new home. Not only am I excited for the new home but so are my children. Each one has already discussed about what he or she will do with his or her room. My two sons loves to play with action figures and love the outdoors. As for my four daughters, they love music and love to sing. They are overjoyed to build memories in their new home.

Thanks again to the Habitat for Humanity of Dane County and to American Family Insurance for sponsoring our family and making our dreams come true. Thinking about our new home brings us to tears and excitement.

Vang Vang and Kham Savapanlan

Rachel Turner

Turner Family (640x426) (300x249)My name is Rachel, and I am a mother of a little boy named Cameron. He is the reason I applied to Habitat. Growing up as a child, I lived in three different states. I could never call one place my real home. To give my child that opportunity to have a home is great. I want to give him something that I didn’t have as a child. To be part of Habitat and the volunteers that will help me build a home for my family is an amazing blessing for us. This is a huge dream come true.

The day I received the call from the Family Services Director, I was at work. I was so excited that I had to take a break. I ran to my car and cried and screamed.

To include my son in this process, I come home and show him pictures or discuss with him what we went over in the meetings. I look forward to building new and better memories with my son in our new home, not to mention getting a basketball hoop so I can finally teach him that mom can really play basketball.

Cameron is a very little energetic little boy, he loves to play his Xbox, being outside and basketball. One of the things we enjoy doing together is going to the movies and walking outside. He is truly God’s blessing from above. He keeps me on my toes always.

As for me, I am a very hard working young lady.  I love learning new things and overcoming challenges. We are very lucky and thankful for this opportunity. I look forward to learning about the ins and outs of building our first home and getting to know the people involved in the building process.

Thank you Habitat for Humanity and all the volunteers for all your help. We look forward to getting to know each and every one of you and making you a part of our family.

P.S.  “I hope we have a beautiful, beautiful backyard so I can play basketball and soccer.” – Cameron

Dolma Family

Sonam Dolma

My name is Sonam Dolma. I was born in 1959. Although I am Tibetan, I was born in India. Because of the Chinese invasion, my parents escaped from Tibet. When I was seven-years-old, my mother passed away in a car accident. My dad was left to take care of me and my three siblings. When I was 16, my dad passed away due to illness. My grandma and aunt too care of us after my parents died.

Time had passed and I got married. A few years into my marriage I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy we named Palden. Life in India was really hard. Growing up as a refugee and the living conditions were always rough. One day, I got the opportunity to come to America. It was a hard decision because I didn’t want to leave my son who was one-year-old. After support from family and friends, I decided it was best to go. In 1993, I came to America. I lived with four roommates in order to save money. In the beginning of 1994, I visited India and got pregnant with my second child. Returning back to America, I worked two jobs. Even though I was pregnant, I often worked extra hours in order to afford to bring my family to America. Because of the strict immigration policies, it took me five years to bring them here. In 1998, my older son and my husband finally came to America. Ever since my husband came to America, our marriage became harder and harder. The situation became so serious that I took my boys and left home. With a social worker’s help, I found a woman’s shelter.

After three months, the social worker found us a low income place to live and we were finally able to move out of the shelter. This was when I became a single mother with two young boys. The hardest part about raising kids in America was dealing with my background and language problems. Compared to India, America has a completely different culture, language and way of life. On top of that, I had no family for support. I felt like I started a new life again. Without our low-income place to live, we probably would not have survived. We have been living here for 15 years and are grateful. Our dream was always to have our own place. We never thought it was possible until we found Habitat for Humanity of Dane County. After we were accepted, we felt there was still hope. My boys are everything to me and nothing would make me happier than to get a home that they always dreamed of having.

The Lee-Her Family

Steven Lee and Pa Her (260x230)This is the story of my life.

I was born in Laos. When I was about 1-year old my parents and I left Laos. My family left Laos to Thailand because my father supported the United States during the Vietnam War. After the US left Vietnam in 1975, the communist Laotian and the communist Vietnamese came searching for those who had helped the US during the Vietnam War to take them prisoner. My family couldn’t stay in Laos anymore because of my father’s support of the United States, so we ran to Thailand in 1982. With little we had in Thailand we did what we could do to survive. We all tried to find odd jobs here and there just to feed our family and had little time for education. In 2002, I married my wife in Thailand. Afterwards, on Sept. 3, 2004 my wife and I came to the United States.

Today there are five people in my family. I have three sons, the oldest is a 6th grader, the next son is a 3rd grader and the youngest son is three so he stays home with his mother. My niece also lives with me. She goes to Madison East High School.

When I first came to America I saw that there were so many people who had good jobs and houses. This made me sad because I didn’t have a house to call mine. I was uneducated and I didn’t speak a word of English, how was I to find a job to support my family? This made me really sad. But today, Habitat for Humanity has given me an opportunity of a lifetime. When I heard that my family received a home offer, we were so excited. I told my kids not to worry any longer because we will have a house to call our own. We encouraged our kids to work hard in school and always remember to help others as they will help you.

In the end I want to thank Habitat for Humanity, the donors, sponsor and volunteers for their time. Without them my family and I will not be receiving this home.

Thank you again. Steven Lee & Pa Ha Her