Moving to Sonoma County from Los Angeles at seven years old, Hannah found home. She’s left and returned, but this is the place, the community, where she and her family belong. Her husband, Jeffrey, grew up in Trinidad and Tobago. Both coming to Sonoma from somewhere else, they appreciate the land and the people with the wisdom of contrast.
This is a couple that knows what it means to work hard for what you have. Hannah was raised by powerful women—her mother, single in the absence of her abusive father, a grandmother who brought up eight children and cooked for ten people night by night without complaint. It was these kinds of examples, no doubt, that gave her the strength to work long hours through her own pregnancy at the restaurant where she’s worked for over ten years, not far from where her new home will be. It was challenging, at times painful, but she would do what she needed to do for her family.
Jeffrey never had it easy either, losing his mother to drugs and his father to prison, and later death, at an early age. His own goals and his education were sidelined when he took on the care of his younger siblings. But these rough beginnings don’t hold him back: Jeffrey took literacy classes at the Sonoma County library, keeps his own landscaping business, is pursuing American citizenship, and even takes time to give back, like volunteering in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
Through all their challenges, and against whatever obstacles they meet down the line, one thing continues to drive them: family. Their three beautiful children give them strength and purpose. Whatever it takes, the children will have what their parents never did—a safe childhood full of play and security, the freedom to dream grandly of their futures. Even in the home that the couple currently rents, where mold creeps in during damp winter months and they must make due with too little space, they give their children what they can of these things. “We are bound by love, hard work, and determination,” Hannah wrote in the personal statement that accompanied their homeownership application. They are family, they are neighbors—the only things missing are the walls and roof that they’ll own themselves.
The high cost of living and instability of renting in Sonoma County has at times forced Hannah and Jeffrey to consider leaving the community that they have grown to love, but through partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Sonoma County, the dream of raising their children in a safe, comfortable home of their own, one of which they can be proud, will be a reality. Hannah and Jeffrey will be moving into one of two Habitat homes at Green Valley Village in beautiful Graton, CA. Hannah will be closer to work. Their children will play in parks and gardens and be surrounded by the gorgeous open spaces of rural Sonoma County. They’ll sleep in their own beds, breathe in clean air, tie memories of their childhood to a space that belongs to them. Their family will know a stability and permanence that they never knew before. They will be—finally—home.