Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit organization that partners with people in communities all over the world to help them build or improve a place they can call home. Habitat homeowners help build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage. With this, they achieve the strength, stability and independence they need to build a better life for themselves and their families. Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities and hope.
In honor of our 25th anniversary, First Centennial Mortgage donated $175,000 to Fox Valley Habitat for Humanity to sponsor this home for the Owino family. This is the first one to be built in Batavia by Habitat for Humanity.
We value the work Habitat does because we recognize the ripple effect owning your own home can have. The condition and location of a family’s home can affect such things as health, education and job opportunity. Both President and Vice President, Steven and Dave McCormick, have served on the Fox Valley Habitat for Humanity board of directors. Steven currently serves as the Board Chairman.
Janice’s story starts in Kenya, Africa, where she grew up, obtained her high school diploma, began her college career, and met the love of her life, George. Janice, her three younger sisters, and her mother lived in Kenya, while her father was living in the United States. He had left them to go to medical school, but Janice’s parents wanted their girls to go to high school in Kenya. In December 2013, the Owino women joined Janice’s father in the United States, leaving George behind.
Janice restarted her college degree at North Central College, where she graduated with her bachelor’s degree in chemical microscopy in June 2018. After graduation, Janice started working at BP as a chemist. She also works part-time at RR Donelley, and in her free time, she volunteers at World Relief as an interpreter for refugees that just entered the United States.
The four and a half years that Janice was apart from George were very difficult, but they continued their relationship through texting and video chatting. Once Janice graduated college, she flew to Kenya and married her high school sweetheart. Since getting married, Janice and George have been awaiting the day that George would get approval to move to the United States. They were to be reunited for good in January of 2020, but then the pandemic hit and everything was put on hold again.
Awaiting her husband’s arrival, Janice knew she would need a home for the two of them—a home that was not also her parent’s home. One of her coworkers at RR Donelley, Ezechiel, a Fox Valley Habitat homeowner, expressed to Janice the benefits of Habitat and how much Habitat has helped him and his wife, who are also refugees from Africa. Janice was very hesitant at first, but she began research on Habitat. Due to the cost of college and the amount of student loan debt, Janice knew it would be very difficult for her to be approved for a mortgage from a traditional bank. There were many things holding Janice back from applying for a Habitat home: her husband still living in Kenya, her student loans, and the general fear of not being accepted. Although discouraged, she decided to send in her application in March 2019.
By the beginning of July the same year, Janice was signing her partnership agreement with Fox Valley Habitat for Humanity. “Excited” was the only word Janice could use to describe how she felt. Janice is excited that she will not have to work three jobs and struggle financially just to afford a mortgage; Janice is excited to have her husband join her, and that they will soon have a place for their future children to grow up; Janice is excited that her and her husband will have a comfortable life; Janice is excited to have her growing family stable in one location to call “home.” Although one of the things Janice explained she was most excited about, is her ability to decorate her own home. With all of these amazing things happening in Janice’s life, she is very grateful and blessed to be able to say that her husband will be joining her soon, and that they will have a home together. After seven years a part, it all is about to be worth it, and Janice could not be more excited.