I'll Be Home for Christmas
It’s business as usual in the Stanton household on an unseasonably warm February evening. Music plays softly in the family room, the hub of the home. The teenagers wander periodically into the kitchen from their bedrooms in search of snacks while the children play in the backyard.
This scene is completely unremarkable, except for the fact that three months ago, the Stanton family – Johnisha, Johnthan and their five children – was cramped into a two-bedroom condo. No yard, no garage, no personal space. When Johnthan’s sister died unexpectedly last year, leaving behind three children, Johnisha and Johnthan adopted them. The young family of four nearly doubled overnight, and, in the midst of this painful experience, the family was forced to reevaluate their living situation. One of Johnisha’s co-workers, who had recently entered the Tulsa Habitat for Humanity Homeowner Program, encouraged the Stantons to find out if Tulsa Habitat might offer a way for them to purchase their own home. So, armed with paperwork and determination, the Stantons visited Tulsa Habitat, hoping for good news. “We kept hearing no,” Johnisha recalls. “Lending companies would try to help get us on the right track, but we needed help right then. We were tired of hearing no.” That day, Tulsa Habitat said yes.
Six months later, Christmas lights lined the outside of their new home: a four-bedroom, two-bathroom house in Kendal Whittier. Johnisha, Johnthan, and their children stood in their front yard. Tulsa Habitat employees, community volunteers, and volunteers from Blueknight Energy, the home’s corporate sponsor, had gathered to welcome the Stanton family home. All home dedications are emotional and triumphant, but this chilly December day felt special. This house was a milestone for Tulsa Habitat and for the community: Johnisha and Johnthan were Tulsa Habitat’s 400th homeowners. “Sometimes it’s kind of surreal,” Johnthan says. “When we leave in the morning, we think, we have a garage? We have a yard? Neither of us have ever had that, even with our parents. We were always in apartments or living with someone. We never had something to call home, to be stewards of.”
Since moving, the Stanton home has become a regular hangout for the neighborhood children. Neighbors have regularly stopped by with gifts and offers of help if the family were ever to need it. Members of the Stanton’s church helped the family lay sod in the outdoor areas. Just a few blocks from the Stanton home in the Kendall Whittier neighborhood, Habitat recently began building a home intended for Johnisha’s co-worker, the very person that introduced her to Tulsa Habitat for Humanity.