Melissa Stafford is thankful to have a roof over her head. The mold in the bathroom, however, and the lack of space, privacy, and good heating in winter are high prices she’s not willing to pay anymore – and she shouldn’t have to. Through friends and social media, Melissa learned about Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland and began her journey to homeownership.

Melissa was born in Calhoun, TN. When she was in seventh grade, her family moved to Cleveland when her father began working in the city. Now, she is the 41-year-old single mother of Haley, 21, and Austin, 19, and works at Wal-Mart. In addition to her dream of homeownership, Melissa is an entrepreneur who hopes to own a business.

Melissa is the type of person who can get along with just about anyone. When you meet her for the first time, you learn just how true this: she’s full of understanding, caring, and love. Her kids are too. Haley loves animals and is “always out to help someone.” For his part, Austin is always on the go, according to Melissa. It’s quickly apparent that the family is very close and enjoy spending time together, often with movie nights or cook-outs.

Melissa and her family are working hard to complete Habitat’s sweat equity requirements. For Melissa, these hours are important, “because I believe it teaches you a sense of responsibility and that you need to work for what you want in life.”

Melissa’s dedication to sweat equity is just one more proof of her big heart. When asked why are you most excited about being part of the Habitat family? She answered because it “gives me a chance to volunteer in my community, and help [others] that may be in the same situation as myself.”

Melissa works hard to reach her long-term goals of homeownership and living debt-free, all while putting God first in her life and the lives of her children. For now, Melissa is on track to move into her new home in 2017, where she can put her interests in gardening and interior decorating to good use.

“I am so very grateful to be a homeowner,” says Melissa. “I worked hard as a single mother to give my children a home a home and to own my home [is a blessing from God].”