An Assignment that Hit Home

 In Blog

I lost my childhood home to foreclosure in January 2014 after my mother decided she had spent enough time in New England and felt the urge to go back to her Californian roots—without my brother or me. I spent my 24th birthday packing up the 24 years’ worth of memories she left behind.

My baby toys were tossed into Salvation Army bins and the rest went up in flames in the biggest bonfire my backyard had ever seen. I spent the next seven months living in a trailer with no running water, which forced me to take a semester off from school so I could take on the four jobs that would allow me to find a new stable and reliable place to call home.

Now, a full two years since I lost everything, it only makes sense that my first assignment for Janice and Beetle Press was to design various projects for Pioneer Valley Habitat for Humanity, a local organization that builds stable and reliable homes for those in need. It was an assignment that was meant to be.

When I began my internship in January, in the last semester of my senior year at Westfield State University, Janice connected me with Amy Landry, director of resource development with the Pioneer Valley Habitat for Humanity. I felt the purpose of my personal and professional lives had joined together.

In the few months I have worked with Amy, I have assisted in the design of Habitat’s annual report, edited and laid out a newsletter, and refreshed the old design of invitations for the organization’s FEAST for Humanity fundraising event coming up April 27, as well as lawn signs and posters in order to spread the word about it.

Beetle Press uses storytelling and design to help raise awareness for the organizations it supports. In this case, Beetle Press forwarded the organization’s mission and offered me experience simultaneously. This, even though Janice was unaware of my story of homelessness or the ways this assignment would touch me personally.

In my work for Habitat for Humanity, I have come to know women who have taken charge of their own living situations and have East Street in Easthampton to call home now. They are Aleta and Angelique, and I have deeply enjoyed connecting with them.

Angelique is a single mother of three who has devoted herself to providing a safe and loving home for her children. “I remember being so stressed out, yet I still kept it together for them,” she told me.

Aleta is raising her grandson and had to move from a South Hadley apartment that was causing health issues. “It’s safe. It’s practical. It’s in a beautiful location, and nature is so important to me,” she says of her new Habitat home.

Angelique and Aleta’s Habitat home is eco-friendly, affordable and most importantly, built with 250 hours of their own “sweat equity,” as Habitat for Humanity calls it. Another amazing feat about East Street is the fact that a majority of the volunteers on this build were women.

I keep Angelique and Aleta—and all the others who benefit from Habitat’s work—in mind as I complete the program for the FEAST event. I’m humbled that my design work via Beetle Press is benefitting a great cause and an organization that is so meaningful to me.

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