Sherall Leo, who likes to go by Leo, has faced unreasonable rent increases more than 20 times, forcing her and her two children to move constantly.
“We moved so much that my kids were never able to stay at one school for longer than two years,” said Leo. “It wasn’t a childhood I wanted for them. It wasn’t fair.”
While living in a 500-square-foot, one-bedroom apartment with growing teenagers and facing yet another possible rent increase, Leo decided to apply for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Orlando’s housing program.
During the homeownership process, Leo was juggling a full-time job, going to homeownership classes, sweat equity volunteer hours and being a full-time mom. “It was a lot,” said Leo. “And sometimes I wanted to quit. But I knew that if I put in the work and kept my faith in God, I would be able to purchase my first home.”
And that’s exactly what she did four years ago during the Women Build 2014 event.
Since moving into their Habitat Greater Orlando home, Leo and her daughter both graduated from Valencia college and her daughter is now at UCF working to become a math teacher. Her son has joined the Air Force and is now stationed in Korea.
Leo came to speak at this year’s Women Build event to inspire and empower the volunteers, donors and supporters.
“Some mornings I wake up and still can’t believe that I’m a homeowner,” said Leo. And even though her son has moved out and is stationed halfway around the world, she keeps his room in perfect condition. “There’s no more moving. My children always have a place to call home and a place to come back to.”
When Leo’s dad first visited her new home, he asked her “Are you sure you haven’t been living here for 10 years?”
She replied, “I’ve been sketching, praying and working for this for years! I’m just getting started on making this house into our home.”
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