After Rina Dixon’s husband was murdered in 2007, she struggled to make ends meet. With her and her three growing children, Rina took on two jobs but still struggled to pay the rent. Because things were falling apart, her family was forced to move out of their home. And they moved into the tiny garage at grandma’s house.
For three years, Rina struggled to get back on her feet. But no matter how hard she worked, she could never make enough money for a down payment on a better property. Her children got used to the tiny garage and that made Rina so sad.
So, she did the only thing she could, she took on a third job…
Because she’d rather see her children happy, Rina sacrificed her sleep and personal well-being to work the third job. But it all ended up paying off in the best way possible.
The mother from Sacramento, California who lost her husband tragically when her boys were just one and two, had to struggle to pay rent and buy food.
The garage space is just 200 square feet. The arrangement was only meant to be temporary. Plus, Rina and her kids had a roof over their head. And that’s what matter.
But Rina failed to get them out of that place for three years. They lacked basic things like electricity, running water, and perhaps the most important thing of all when raising a teenage daughter – personal space.
The blistering summers and cold winters were cruel to the Dixons. Eventually, her daughter started sleeping in grandma’s living room on the couch, while the hard-working single mother lives in the garage with her boys.
“I get home, look at my kids and our living situation – in a converted garage – and I say to myself, ‘I’m not a quitter.’ I refuse to let my kids see me give up.”
While working as a doctor’s assistant, Dixon knew she’d never make ends meet with three kids. So, she took on the biggest challenge of her life.
She began building her own home with her own hands.
As a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, Dixon began building homes in 2013. She joined the organization’s “sweat equity” program. It allows volunteers to sacrifice their free time to build homes for others. Then, in the end, successful candidates earn the front-door keys to their own home.
Rina contributed 500 hours building homes for the organization. In the end, “sweat equity” candidates walk away with a home they built themselves.
Because Rina never wanted a free ride, she was willing to do whatever it took to get her kids out of poverty. And so she got on her knees and started laying tiles and hammering nails.
Three years after starting, Dixon recounts how brutal house building was for her to ABC10.
“[I was] almost in tears, driving home, the sunburnt, wore out, dirty and feeling so hot and sweaty,” she said. Her kids couldn’t even pitch in because participants needed to be older than 16.
But Rina Dixon’s life changed in March 2016. After three years of suffering at the bottom, she was given the keys to her own three-bedroom, two-bath home. She could not hide her joy.
“Having their own rooms, decorating their own rooms, having their own space. Going from a converted garage to a home is amazing.”
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