Sometimes dreams do come true, just ask Sonya Allen.
Allen and her two teenage children, Smitty and Elaine, experienced homelessness after a water main break forced them to permanently move out of the home they owned. The family spent time in Family Promise of Davie County’s shelter program before moving into a transitional home owned by Hope Homes, another local nonprofit.
During her time at Family Promise, Allen often spoke with Executive Director Lisa Foster about her dream to move back to the land where she grew up in Advance, NC. She owned the property, but the home on the lot was no longer habitable and the cost of building a new home was too great. After graduating from the shelter program, the dream to move to the land in Advance still seemed out of reach.
That is until the family was selected to receive a home donated through a partnership between Clayton, a national homebuilder of site-built and off-site built homes, and Family Promise, which serves families with children who are currently homeless or at risk of experiencing homelessness.
Last week, during a celebratory ribbon-cutting ceremony, they presented her with the keys to a beautiful fully-furnished three-bedroom, two-bath home on the property that had been in her family for more than 100 years.
Tears glistening in her eyes, Allen cut the ribbon and then explored her new home for the first time. “You can’t tell it, but I’m smiling under this mask,” she said with a happy chuckle as her three-year journey from homeless to homeowner ended.
Following the tour, Allen shared, “I am filled with joy, unspeakable joy. Despite the chaos we have suffered, God has put people in our path to bring us to this point and I am just so grateful. These tears are tears of joy because God has been so good.”
“My great-grandfather, Samuel Vance Allen was one of the first freed slaves. He had 13 children and raised them on this property. My grandmother gave this property to my father when he had us and this is where I was raised. This is where it all began for our entire family.”
“It is such a blessing to bring my children back to where I grew up and never had to move, never had my stability ripped out from under me. My children will now get to experience that same stability that I have so wanted them to have in their lives.”
Allen asked Foster to join her. “This woman is a blessing in my life. She gave me hope at a very dark time when I didn’t know where I was going with my children, I didn’t know where we would be able to lay our heads. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I appreciate all of the hard work you have done. This is Family Promise, this is my family, and I want everyone to know it.”
“At Clayton we are dedicated to helping open doors to a better life through attainable homeownership,” said Susan Brown, Director of Philanthropy at Clayton. “Sonya and her family have overcome obstacles and worked hard to build their future and Clayton is honored to be part of the team providing this family with the dream of homeownership.”
Hope Homes is donating the transitional home where Allen and her children were living to Family Promise of Davie County where it will be used to empower other families on their journeys to sustainable housing.
“This home donation isn’t only exciting because this resilient family is getting their forever home, but also because the home they were living in before will turn into transitional housing for more families in our North Carolina community,” said Foster.
The home donation is part of a larger national partnership between Clayton and Family Promise, which works toward ending and preventing family homelessness. Both organizations believe that assisting this family – and others like them – brings the nation closer to one in which every family has a home, a livelihood and the chance to build a better future. Through the home donation program and A Future Begins at Home, Clayton and Family Promise provide educational outreach and resource development, comprehensive case management, support services, and non-traditional, affordable housing solutions for graduate families, like off-site built housing and transitional housing. The Allen’s home is the first of five home donations through the A Future Begins at Home program this year.
“Since we launched the A Future Begins at Home program, our partnership with Clayton has helped countless families like Sonya’s achieve housing independence through home donations and homelessness prevention efforts,” said Claas Ehlers, Chief Executive Officer of Family Promise National. “We are thankful for Clayton’s ongoing commitment to the fight against family homelessness, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has had a significant impact on America’s low-income families.”
The off-site built home, constructed by Clayton and finished by Clayton Homes of Winston-Salem, is permanently affixed to her property, giving the family the opportunity for equity building for years to come. It is equipped with energy-efficient features such as a smart programmable thermostat, energy-efficient appliances, and furnace to help with long-term utility savings. Clayton also added a washer and dryer.
The Allen family was further blessed with home goods donated by Belk, a bedroom suite donated by Daniel Furniture, beds donated by Mattress Firm, and pillows and linens donated by Avocado Green Mattress.
“This home means peace of mind,” said Allen, with a smile, “and not having to worry or stress, to know that we have a foundation that is not going to move from under our feet.”
Founded in 1956, Clayton is committed to opening doors to a better life and building happyness ® through homeownership. As a diverse builder committed to quality and durability, Clayton offers traditional site-built homes and off-site built housing – including modular homes, manufactured homes, CrossMod™ homes, tiny homes, college dormitories, military barracks, and apartments. All Clayton Built® homes are proudly designed, engineered, and assembled in America. In 2019, Clayton built 51,964 homes across the country. Clayton is a Berkshire Hathaway company. For more information, visit claytonhomes.com.
Family Promise envisions a nation in which every family has a home, a livelihood, and the chance to build a better future. What began as a local initiative in Summit, NJ, has become a national movement that involves 200,000 volunteers and served more than 111,000 family members in 2019. Family Promise will change the future for 1 million children by 2030. For more information visit FamilyPromise.org.