impact stories

Meet the Carter family

My family and I are settling in nicely to our new home and community. The feeling of excitement and optimism my children have makes me a proud mother.

In 2016, Habitat for Humanity GTA began construction at Pinery Trail. Located in Scarborough’s Malvern community, Pinery Trail is the largest build in our organization’s 32-year history. This Habitat build is now a completed 50-home stacked back-to-back townhouse community.

Thousands of volunteers and donors contributed to bringing this community to life. And today, Pinery Trail is home to 83 parents and 145 children for a total of 228 people who now have a safe, decent and affordable place to call home.

One such family is the Carter’s. Dionne Carter and her three children moved into their Habitat home at Pinery Trail in December 2019. Life has changed a lot since receiving the keys to their home.

Dionne used to live in a three-bedroom apartment with her two sons, daughter, and brother. She decided to share an apartment with her brother because she couldn’t afford to rent a decent place close to where she worked and the kids went to school on her own. As a working, single-mother, it was the best option for their family at the time.

Since Dionne’s eldest son, Zeyvon, is in high school, she opted to give him his own bedroom to focus on his studies. He has ADHD and needs the space to concentrate. It left the rest of the family sharing a single bedroom. Over time, Dionne realized that the unit was poorly insulated. At times, her children had to wear winter jackets indoors to keep themselves warm in the winter. There have also been incidents of rat and roach infestations in the building. It was especially difficult for Dionne’s youngest son, Christian, to manage because he suffers from asthma.

“My son Christian has a speech impediment that he was working on but it was hard to use the techniques and tools prescribed by the therapist in such a hectic living space,” says Dionne. “My daughter Olivia is an artist and all I wanted for her was space to express her passion. It was necessary for us to make a change, so I can do better for my family, which led me to apply for a Habitat home.”

Moving into their new Habitat home at Pinery Trail has made their living situation much more manageable. Each family member has their own bedroom, and they finally have the space they need to concentrate on their homework and individual hobbies. For the first time since she can remember, Dionne has her own bedroom where she can get the sleep she needs to excel at work.

Dionne is proud of the work her family put in to become a Habitat homeowner, especially her son Zeyvon. Working alongside Habitat volunteers and neighbouring partner families during their sweat equity has meant so much to him. Zeyvon volunteered at Pinery Trail helping build their own home and the homes of their neighbours. Thanks in large part to his experience, he has developed a passion to work in the trades and got accepted into an apprenticeship program through his high school. For the first time in his young life; Zeyvon has direction, purpose, and a drive to pursue post-secondary education.

“My family and I are settling in nicely to our new home and community,” says Dionne. The feeling of excitement and optimism my children have makes me a proud mother. It’s been nice living beside our neighbours who we started to get to know through our Habitat experience.”

Dionne’s daughter, Olivia, now walks to school. Living in their previous apartment, she was afraid to do so because of the condition of the elevator and staircases. Dionne has watched Olivia become more independent since moving into Pinery Trail. And the family started making social plans with their neighbouring partner families. But then COVID-19 hit.

Like all of our families, COVID-19 has been a challenge for the Carter’s. Especially for Zeyvon who had to put his apprenticeship on hold. But Dionne focuses on the positives of social distancing in their Habitat home – compared to what life would be like in their old apartment.

“At least we have a safe neighbourhood where we can go for walks as a family and say hi to our neighbours from a distance,” says Dionne. “It’s been great for our mental health as we would have been too nervous to take the elevators to go outside in our old apartment. Just having a balcony that we can walk out to from our living room and see our neighbours makes a big difference.”

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