“Welcome home, Niki,” Habitat for Humanity of McHenry County Family Services Coordinator Kathy Haupt said during the Habitat For Humanity home dedication Dec. 16.
“My goal was to get into this house before Christmas. This is a dream come true,” Nicole Woodcock said amidst tears as she prepared to receive the keys to her new home on the north side of Woodstock.
Woodcock’s journey was not easy.
“Niki worked very hard for this home,” Holly Zissman, community engagement coordinator for Habitat For Humanity said. “She put in a lot of sweat equity. Every day that she could, she was here, working on this house. She worked as an Uber driver to supplement her income. She danced on the roof while she worked here. She just has a great spirit, and to see her come out of her shell has been overwhelming.”
Woodcock explained that, on her lunch break a little more than a year ago, she was looking through a newspaper and saw an ad for Habitat for Humanity looking for partner families. “I called and talked to Kathy [Haupt] and then I started working at the McHenry ReStore and then on another house and then here,” she said.
Habitat for Humanity of McHenry County’s mission is to help people achieve stability and independence through safe, decent and affordable shelter. Habitat staff works with the recipient as well as other volunteers to rehab or build new homes in the area. Woodcock, who was living with her two children in a rented bedroom, was more than willing to put hours of labor into rehabbing her home – and was overwhelmed with the volunteer response.
“People came from all over to help – even the neighbors came over to help,” Woodcock said.
Teams of volunteers assist housing recipients. Woodstock resident, United States Army veteran and Habitat For Humanity Director of Operations Dan Hedman said eight of his Woodstock High School graduating classmates, along with a group of friends from the Army National Guard, came to help do the final cleaning of the home. “I just asked, and they came,” he said.
Hedman said they rarely work with a family that has nothing – and area businesses stepped up to the plate and gave generously to Woodcock, who was in need of all of the basics.
Woodstock’s Donahue Furniture Company donated furniture.
Kohl’s management and staff in Crystal Lake came as a team to represent the store, and Kohl’s corporate donated $500. Kohl’s staff purchased, out of their own monies, towels, dishes, glasses and other decorations instead of exchanging their own Christmas gifts, according to Marzena Sheahen, captain of Kohl’s Associates in Action Volunteer program.
In this season of giving, Woodcock not only was the gracious recipient, but she also was part of the volunteer team for others. While waiting for her own house to be ready for her to begin working on it, she worked on someone else’s home in Wonder Lake.
“I worked hard on the Wonder Lake house because I knew that someone would be happy here. … I kept working. There was joy in working … it was a hard journey and a lot of blessings,” she said.
“We cannot do this alone, but we can do this with the support of others,” Haupt said.
To learn more about the Habitat for Humanity housing program or to volunteer, visit habitatmchenry.org or call 815-759-9002.