By Ashley Maxwell
Joyce Misiani, mother of four children, was once numbered among the homeless. Today, however, she is a proud homeowner.
“Life is what you make it to be,” said Misiani, who now owns a three bedroom house in Irvington.
Misiani and her children were sleeping on cots in a friend’s basement floor in 2007 before she was introduced to Harmony House, New Community’s transitional housing facility for the homeless. She and her family lived at Harmony House for five months and within that time period, Misiani enrolled in the New Community School of Practical Nursing. She graduated from the nursing program in 2008, determined to rise above her struggles.
Following graduation, Misiani was hired as a licensed practical nurse at the New Community Extended Care Center, where she is still employed. She and her family later also moved out of Harmony House into a New Community townhouse rental nearby.
It was one of her friends from the nursing program who informed her about Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing organization that builds simple, decent, affordable housing in partnership with people in need. Misiani applied for the program and was chosen from among hundreds of families desiring a Habitat home.
It wasn’t quite over yet. In order to get a house for her family, Misiani had to agree to contribute 400 hours helping to build houses for other families. With a busy work schedule and only Wednesdays and Saturdays off, Misiani would go over to one of the assigned houses every Wednesday to do her required hours for Habitat. Her jobs at the construction work sites included painting, driving nails, putting down doors and many other tasks. She devoted herself to this for two straight years in order to complete her work requirement. Misiani would also invite her friends and family to help her get the various jobs done.
“They train you to do things on your own so you won’t have to depend on anyone to do it for you (once you become a homeowner),” she said.
After all the hard work, Misiani, now studying for her RN, and her family, including 7-year-old twins, were recently able to move into their own home. Misiani knows she has come a long way from the days of sleeping on a basement floor and refuses to look back.
“I sacrificed my time and my family, but in the end, it’s been worth it,” she said.