It’s been a long journey from Belize to Bryan for Lisa Miller.
The Bryan resident was born in Belize, a nation on the eastern coast of Central America. She moved to Riverside, California, where she graduated high school, spent a year in Michigan, and has lived in Bryan for the past 10 years.
Now she’s prepared for another move. With her children Zahira, 12, and Trey, who turns 9 later this month, Miller, now 30, will be moving from the house she rents on East Trevitt Street to a new home she’ll help build in Bryan this year as the newest Habitat for Humanity of Williams County partner family.
The exact location of the home has not been confirmed yet, though Mary Ann Peters, Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity of Williams County, said she expects it will be in Bryan.
Which is just fine with Miller, who works at Fountain Park Assisted Living, Memory Care & Villas, in Bryan, and is attending nursing school to become a Registered Nurse.
“I’m so excited,” Miller said. Owning her own home “has been a huge dream of mine for a long time.”
Miller said she heard about the local Habitat through stories in The Bryan Times and decided to apply.
“It just seemed like a cool program. And I was looking for ways to get us involved in the community,” she said, with a nod to Zahira, a seventh grader at Bryan Middle School, and Trey, a third grader at Bryan Elementary.
Habitat volunteer Tammy Wood is working as Miller’s mentor, helping guide her through the Habitat process and providing personal support and encouragement. Wood noted that one stipulation is that Miller and her family provide 250 hours of “sweat equity” by working on various aspects of the construction, which shouldn’t be a problem as Miller and her children helped on the previous home build last year in Pioneer.
“It’s amazing how much time you can spend painting,” she said with a laugh, when asked what she learned during the Pioneer home build.
Peters said she hopes to confirm the location in Bryan of the Miller’s new home very soon, with construction to begin as early as March and completion by the end of the year. It will be the 33rd Habitat home in the 27 years of Habitat’s existence as a local organization, she said.
Peters said in addition to the 250 hours of “sweat equity” in the building process, partner families must have a need, and have the ability to make mortgage payments in the range of $450 a month, plus pay for property taxes and insurance on the home.
In addition, partner families must undergo financial management education, including budgeting and home ownership maintenance. She also said families are expected to take advantage of the opportunity to find “stability for the family and the children” by staying in their home for at least 20 years.
Miller said her parents, Lincoln and Shirley Andrews, now live in West Unity. She said Lincoln, a truck driver, made regular trips from California to Bryan and liked the area so much they moved here.
Since Habitat homes are three bedroom, one-story builds, Zahira said she’s excited to have a bedroom on the first floor, because she won’t have to climb stairs. And, she said, in the summer, her second floor bedroom “is hotter in the summer and colder in the winter” than the first floor.
“I think it’s going to been really good,” Zahira said. “We’ve been in the same (rental) house a long time. Now we have a new house. And I want to help build it.”