Kaileen Hand has had her share of hardships.
At 19, she found herself pregnant, unemployed and homeless.
But the single mother has used those obstacles as lessons to learn from to create a better future for herself and her almost 2-year-old daughter, Janiya.
Shortly after she found out she was pregnant, she heard about SOLVE maternity home in Englewood and applied for temporary housing there.
After her baby was born, she moved to Our Mother’s House in Venice, a nonprofit, nondenominational residential housing program offered by Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice Inc. Low-cost housing and free child care afford single moms the opportunity to work or attend school while living there.
She currently works as a medical assistant at a urology clinic in Venice.
Saturday, she received the keys to a new Habitat for Humanity home in Garden Park in Nokomis.
“I couldn’t think of a better way to start my life with my daughter than in this beautiful home,” Kaileen said. “Thank you to everyone who helped build my happily ever after.”
Habitat for Humanity South Sarasota County Executive Director Judy Wilcox thanked a crowd of about 100 people who attended the dedication ceremony Saturday. Guests included Habitat volunteers, other Habitat homeowners and representatives from other community organizations.
Wilcox said Habitat purchased the Nokomis property in 2007. It took about a year and a half to get traction, and now it is a full, vibrant community with state-of-the-art constructed homes.
“We are deeply indebted to all of those who have given their gifts of time, talent and resources so these homes could be erected — without you we could not do this,” Wilcox said. “We are home now to 18 families with 22 children here under the age of 18.”
Wilcox added that Habitat is a difficult program that takes about a year to get through and includes a lot of work along the way.
Two new units were dedicated Saturday.
The other new recipients were Beth Church and her son, P.J.
Crew leader Bill Goetluck handed a tool kit to the new homeowners at the dedication.
“We’ve built it and now comes the hard part — you have to maintain it,” Goetluck said.
Kathleen Majerchin, director of development at SOLVE, also attended the dedication Saturday.
“Kaileen is a perfect example of someone who has utilized the resources we offer to the maximum capacity,” Majerchin said. “She obtained more education, received a better job and now she’s a homeowner.”