"I’m just being strong for my kids – they need me."

Ashley has faced her fair share of hardships throughout her life. With hard work, patience and hope, Ashley has overcome many obstacles since becoming a mom at the age of 17. When her first child, Yoni was a toddler, Ashley noticed Yoni was under the developmental marks that other children his age were at. After approaching Yoni’s doctor for help, Yoni was referred to a specialized therapist. At the end of multiple sessions, it was determined that Yoni was autistic. Upon receiving Yoni’s diagnosis and attempting to adjust to his needs,  Ashley would soon experience another obstacle. In December 2016, Ashley was admitted to the hospital with abdominal pain, which resulted in having her appendix removed. The following month, Ashley’s doctors informed her that while the surgery went well they had discovered cancerous tumors. Ashley would have to undergo another surgery to remove the cancer.

With a successful operation, Ashley was on the mend but would soon find herself facing adversity again. In just two short months after receiving her cancer-free news, Ashley’s mother was diagnosed with colon cancer. A ray of hope came during this time as Ashley became pregnant. Ashley welcomed her second child, a daughter, Rosaledis. Celebrations would be short lived- unfortunately, a month and a half after her daughter was born, Ashley’s mother lost her fight to cancer. Within the same month of her mother’s passing, Ashley’s father,  Jose, lost his home due to Hurricane Harvey. His mobile home was demolished by a falling tree and with nowhere else to go, Jose moved in to the two-bedroom, one-bathroom mobile home that Ashley shares with her two children, now 10 and 6 years old.

The family’s current living situation is not what Ashley envisions for her children. She describes the walls as broken and in need of sheetrock, a non-working bathtub with a large crack in the bottom, as well as water damage to the roof that frequently leaks and has caused mildew in the home.  During Hurricane Harvey, a storm damaged the electricity to half of the mobile home. Ashley now uses extension cords running from one side of the home to the other for lighting.

The trailer park where Ashley’s mobile home is located also proves to not be ideal for her families needs.  With restrictions on the neighborhood, her young children are prevented from leaving the cramped space of the home to enjoy the outdoors. They are not allowed to have a swing set or trampoline outside and with the limited space inside the mobile home, keeping large toys is not an option. Ashley is hesitant of leaving any toys outside for fear of theft. Additionally, the proximity of the trailer to the main road is a safety hazard as most people drive by too fast, making it dangerous for her young children to play outside.

As her kids grow older, the available space inside the mobile home gets smaller and smaller. When asked what she looks forward to in her future Habitat home, Ashley responded, “Just my kid’s own room and a home that will be ours forever and then pass on to my kids.” She further explained how a common living area would be beneficial so they can spend time together as a family and have space to spread out. “I think we’ll just be in a more healthier and happier environment.”