Just about every Saturday you will find Chico resident Mary Shippen on the Habitat build site. Taking photos, coordinating lunch service, keeping the job site neat, she seems to be everywhere at once. Her energy and good nature keeps volunteers motivated and their spirits high. Mary is, indeed, a very special volunteer whose story is one of strength, gratitude, and generosity.
You see, Mary is not only a Habitat volunteer, she’s a Habitat homeowner. Before working with others to build her own Habitat home, Mary and her adult son, Andy, who has Asperger’s syndrome, were sleeping on make-shift beds at her mother-in-law’s home. Mary, a Special Needs Teacher’s Aide and an after-school program director, just didn’t make enough money to qualify for a traditional home loan. When a friend referred her to Habitat for Humanity she didn’t think she’d qualify, thinking only the homeless would receive assistance.
Nevertheless, in 2010 she applied and was selected to partner with Habitat. Thrilled that she would finally have secure housing for her and her son, Mary worked alongside volunteers while her home took shape. When it was completed, she not only had a place to call her own, she had a new lease on life.
When asked about her own experience with Habitat, Mary shares how her heart was touched by the fact that so many volunteers had helped her build her home, people she didn’t even know before they walked onto the build site. Mary says she now has a new trust in people and more confidence in herself. Wanting to do for others what so many have done for her, Mary now gives back to the community, serving as a volunteer on the Habitat build site and as an active member of the Habitat Greens community where she lives –so active, in fact, that her neighbors have dubbed her the “Mayor” of Habitat Greens.
Mary didn’t want a hand out, she just wanted a hand. And, now she’s extending her own two hands to others.
Mary is just one of many success stories among Habitat homeowners –stories of compassion and hope and courage. We are proud and privileged to be a part of every one of them.
Please click HERE to learn how you can help someone like Mary.