Meet Our 2016 Partner Families
1009 NE Monroe
My name is Chawalta Artis. I am the proud mother of three beautiful children, one daughter and twin sons. I have a strong family and church support circle in the Peoria area. I work for Vonachen Services in Peoria, cleaning offices and really like the work because it gives me more time with my growing children both before and after school. My children are my life and I want the best for them.
I have lived in the Peoria area since I was 4 years old. My parents and siblings live nearby who are a huge support system for me. I attend church at Miracle Revival Church and enjoy the services and Bible study on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays. I have worked as a teacher of young children for a number of years and really enjoyed making a difference in the little ones lives.
I am excited to be part of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Peoria family! I am so thankful to be given the opportunity to work with Habitat to give my children a stable home which is my number one priority. Once I am able to move-into my beautiful new home my children and I can settle into a consistent routine of work, school and growing up. The experience of helping build my house has been hard, but absolutely wonderful. Along the way I have met so many great people in addition to learning building and home-ownership skills I can use for a lifetime.
4100 N. Prospect Road, Peoria Heights
My name is Kenya Beck and I am the single mother of an 11 year old son named Jaylen. I have lived in Peoria all my life. I come from a big family of 17 siblings. We are very close. My family means the world to me. I want to stay close so my son will have the same family support I did growing up. I love my church. I attend Faith Tabernacle Church of God in Christ. Jaylen and I are active in all the church ministries. I want my son to grow to be a spiritual man of God. I’m an usher during the services, a kitchen helper and cook as well as a member of the Adult Choir. Jaylen sings in the Sunshine Band. He sometimes leads songs especially a song called “Worth” by Anthony Brown. Their Pastor enjoys the help of our family.
I have worked for Caterpillar in Morton, Illinois for 5 years. I am a Parts Record Clerk in the Logistics Department. I enjoy it very much. I am hoping to continue my education in the Fall at MidState College. My plan is to get a degree in Business Administration to move forward in Caterpillar Inc.
A Habitat home means a new chapter in my family’s life, a fresh new start with a safe environment. I want my son to feel safe and eager to grow in his education and sports activities. We want to be part of a new community where we can be involved and give back. Both the home and church community are important to us. Living to serve is our family mission and fits in well with the Habitat mission.
1015 NE Monroe St.
Michael and Melissa met in 1989 as young teens. They met through mutual friends, however they separated for some time until God brought them back together in 1994. Not long after that, the two got married on May 24, 1997 in Galesburg at the Lake Storey Park. The Bushnell’s lived in Galesburg for 18 years, and applied to Habitat for Humanity in their area. “It wasn’t meant to be then, but it lit a spark in our hears that would propel us forward,” Melissa stated.
In 2012, they moved to Peoria, and joined Second Chance Church. The couple knew they wanted to start a family. That is when Michael urged to apply for Habitat in 2014, and a decision was made that would change this family’s lives forever.
“Habitat for Humanity has given us the chance for our dreams to bloom into reality. To know we are part of something so much bigger than ourselves is very humbling. We will be investing in our family, future and also in our community. We are proud to say we will have a Habitat for Humanity home. Others can see that their dreams can come true as well. The bonds that will be made while building our house are priceless. Volunteers, complete strangers, along with support from our Church, family and friends, all giving selflessly of their time and hard work to build our dream that would otherwise be unobtainable.
There’s a verse that has been the voice of our marriage. 1 Corinthians 13:13- “And these three things remain. Faith, Hope, & Love. But the greatest of these is Love”. Our Faith in Jesus and His plan for us has kept our hope alive, even in the darkest times. The Love Jesus has for us and that we have for each other is the glue that binds it all together. This isn’t just a verse; it’s the foundation that dreams are built on. With Habitat for Humanity, our house will be a home and a blessing for many years to come. Jesus’ light will forever shine in our home built with love.”
Habitat for Heroes
103 Mabee Street, East Peoria
My name is James Stevens. I was born in Knoxville, Iowa on June 5, 1976. My brother and I bounced from foster home to foster home until we were adopted. I was five years old when we moved to Lynnville, IA with our new parents. Then in 1989, we moved to LeRoy, Illinois. Growing up I had no doubt what I wanted to do. I loved “GI Joe” action figures and war movies. I wanted to be a soldier. I met my first wife and she had a one-and-a-half-year-old baby girl named Kirstin, from a previous relationship. I became a dad and am still her dad today. In 2000, we brought another angel onto this Earth named Madison. Both of my daughters have been a complete blessing in my life, not only did I learn to be a dad but they have taught me lessons in life that have made me a better man. In 2010, I joined the Army and began infantry basic training where I learned a lot. In 2011, I moved to Fort Riley, Kansas and was to be stationed there until 2014. During my time at Fort Riley, I learned all about loyalty, duty, respect, and honor. Things I believe everyone should learn. In 2012, I deployed to Afghanistan where I was stationed at a combat outpost called COP Zerok up in the mountains. Life at a COP is often simple, strict, and demanding with every soldier responsible for guard duty and patrolling. We sadly lost three soldiers who were great guys as well as great dads, brothers, and husbands. We will never forget them and their sacrifice. In 2013, we came home and started our transition back into regular army life. In 2014, I moved back to Illinois and drilled at the Bartonville Armory until May 2016.
1021 NE Monroe, Peoria
My Name is Breona Woods. I was born and raised in Peoria IL. Growing up I was faced with many obstacles which help mold me into the person I am today. I never had a stable home as a child. If I wasn’t in foster care I was living with different family members until my mother was able to take us in. I grew up living with 3 brothers and 1 older sister. The most stable home I had was with my grandmother from the time I started second grade until fourth grade. Living with my grandmother was very hard because my sister and I were her care givers, because she was sick. When my grandmother could no longer live in the home I moved in with my mother. During that time my mother was struggling with drugs and trying to better herself. So my siblings and I would go days and sometimes months without knowing where our mother was. Some days were scary living in houses with no electricity or food. My older sister was 12 years older than me so she and my older brother helped cook the little food they could find and get us off to school. By the time I was 14 my mother began to get her life in order. We still were not stable but my mom was there. By the time I was 16 my older sibling moved out leaving me and my little brother. I started my first job at McDonalds shortly after my 16th birthday. I managed to take care of myself and my brother off my part-time income. By the time I was 17 my little brother moved on and I found out I was pregnant with my first child. I had my son December 25, 2008. I knew this wasn’t going to be an easy journey. When I was released from the hospital, 3 days after giving birth my mother informed me that she was evicted from the house she was in. We didn’t have anywhere to go. After being turned down by family members, I slept that first night home with my child in a car. That night changed me forever I made a promise to my son that one day we will have a home to call ours. The next day I found somewhere for my son and I to stay temporarily. After 6 weeks I was able to return to school and put my son in daycare. By the grace of God I never fell behind in school and was advanced in all my classes. I was offered CO-OP, so I only did a half day of school. With the other half of my day I went to ICC to get my CNA certificate. By the summer of 2009 I was working as a CNA making 11 dollars an hour. I was able to use my first paycheck for a deposit on my first apartment. Since then I’ve been in school bettering myself. I became a National Registered Emergency Medical Technician. I tried applying for home loans through banks but was denied due to credit issues. The major issues on my credit were caused because, my mother had bills in my name that I was not aware of. When I was 23, I gave birth to twin girls. That was on January 27, 2014. After their birth I enrolled into Capital Area School of practical nursing and became an LPN. Through all the struggle and tough times I managed to become who I am today, a loving mother and Nurse. I haven’t given up on my promise to my son that one day we will have a home that is ours. Until that day comes I will do my best to get 1 step closer to my promise. Now that I have been accepted to get a Habitat home words can’t explain how much of a blessing this is to me and my children. We are grateful for this opportunity. This shows us that God is always working and to never lose faith because there are people and places that are making dreams come true. Thanks Habitat for Humanity.
1025 NE Monroe
This is the second time this young mother of 6 has applied for a Habitat house and it’s good to see the progress she has made since we last met with her. Michelle Palazzo has been promoted at OSF and is now a scheduler for ministry services at the hospital. She has been at OSF for 13 years. She is interested in working toward furthering her career at OSF. Her children range in age from 2 to 12, four boys and two girls. One of the boys is legally blind and has health issues. The children go to many different schools so she said that moving would not impact that status.
Rent is currently $914 a month so she needs a more affordable place to live because the children will need more and more as they continue to grow.
When we asked her what she is teaching her kids about financial responsibility, she said they will have piggy banks and chores. She talks with them about the bills and hopes she sends her kids into the world better prepared than she was.
Her family is all from Mapleton, IL so she is a native of the area with a close family circle. She is involved in several of the school activities in which the children participate.
The work she’s done since our last meeting is impressive and we believe she is on the right track. She has a strong, reliable occupation after being there 13 years. She’s improved their living conditions at great cost to her. She’s working hard with the schools to get her children the education and support they need.
Michelle wants to have a home she can afford and that she can feel comfortable in. A stable home would be a place for her children to grow-up in and play safely. She hopes that there would be enough space for everyone to spread out a bit and each of them could show their individuality by decorating that space. Michelle’s children can put down roots and focus on school and being children. With the help of Habitat, she hopes to make that goal come true. Habitat hopes to support her efforts to raise six successful children and create great memories in her forever home.