By Whitney Anderson
Ken and Jenny Crawford and their seven children moved nine times in 14 years. When they found out that they were chosen as a family partner of Northwestern Habitat for Humanity, they realized this would be the last time they would have to uproot their family.
“Finally it is not just a house anymore. It’s a home,” said Ken.
The Crawfords always knew about Habitat for Humanity and were regular patrons of the ReStore, but they never considered applying for homeownership themselves.
Until Ken lost his job three years ago, he had ample income to support his family. He always felt that his family should be reaching out to others – not the other way around.
“It was that mentality that kept us away,” Ken said.
Through what Ken calls “a series of really wonderful events,” he was able to find work again. His new job offers full benefits, but it is not a full-time position, and he is making only 20 percent of what he made three years ago.
Despite the severe pay cut, Ken still must make ends meet for his family.
“We still have the same number of mouths to feed and the same number of kids to dress,” he said.
That is why a friend encouraged them to apply to become Habitat homeowners. It took several weeks of prodding before they finally agreed. Less than a year after they submitted an application, the family stood alongside volunteers to break ground on their new home.
Northwestern Michigan Habitat for Humanity and the Crawford family partnered with Pellston High School’s building trades class to build the four-bedroom, two-bathroom home in Pellston, Mich. It will be the affiliate’s largest home yet.
Working with the high school class has been a life-altering experience, said Ken. “Some of these kids’ hearts are really in this. I have watched kids change through the process.”
Ken has also seen changes within himself and the rest of his family. The youngest of his seven kids, 3-year-old Harmony, has cancer. Her most recent tests revealed optimistic results, and Ken credits a lot of her healing to all the positivity in her life right now.
“Through this whole experience I have seen people bend over backward for my family. I have seen people really care,” he said, and he knows that Harmony grasps that too.
“I don’t think I could ever express to Habitat what this actually means – as a man and as a father. They helped me do something I could only dream of accomplishing, in giving my family a stability that can’t get ripped out from underneath them.”