By Maureen Sedonaen, CEO. It’s that time of year when the anticipation and long mental lists of “to dos” collide with getting ready to send the kids back to school. I remember vividly when my children were young, and it was that time: shopping for school supplies, picking out the right lunch box, choosing new sneakers, and saying goodbye to summer camp friends.
It’s also a chance to look back on the cherished memories of summer with your family.
I spent this last Saturday welcoming dozens of Habitat families at our bi-annual Homeowner Celebration. As each one arrived and signed in at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, I learned where they lived within our 248 homes that have been built over our 29-year history. I learned the ages and grades of their children, and I saw the excitement and connections each family had with each other. Mothers, fathers, grandmothers, brothers, and sisters. All excited for a day’s adventure.
The work we do at Habitat is what we call the “long game.” It takes years to build a housing development, recruit families, and engage with them on their journey to homeownership. What an incredible privilege to be able to work side by side for the 500 hours of “sweat equity” each family puts in as their down payment for homeownership.
As I watched them move through the line before the opening of the museum, I was struck by how quickly it all goes and how the stability of home and family connects us. Whether they were from Menlo Park, San Francisco, Novato, or Redwood City, each family is part of our community. Back-to-school represents a transition each year: new grade, new opportunities, new friends, and new memories.
It was a privilege to see kids who had been in their Habitat home for over 10 years and hearing the pride in their mother’s voice as she shared their success in school and discussing future college plans.
In our three-county Habitat region of Marin, San Francisco, and San Mateo, 70% of our Habitat families have kids enrolled in K-12 schools. Over 90% of our Habitat Homeowners surveyed report they feel happy about their children’s success at school, and 100% believe these children will graduate from high school. The percentage of dependents who grow up in Habitat homes with a bachelor's degree nearly doubled compared to their homeowner parents.
These are the days when the “long game” seems short and the impact evergreen. These are the days that back-to-school symbolizes more than just a grade-level promotion or new haircut. These are the days that we know that our Habitat homeowners are building. Building their lives. Building their children’s path to success. Building their legacy.
So, take a moment this time of year to reflect on days passed, the journey of your kids, and the memories your family has built. We are so humbled and blessed to have this incredible network of Habitat families that come back each year to memorialize our work and remind us that back-to-school also means back to our homes that we built with our community.