By The Journal-Standard JANE LETHLEAN

Freeport family enjoys Habitat home

FREEPORT (AP) — On the first night after moving into their new home, the Lacy family slept on the living room floor. They didn't care that they had no furniture. This was their new home, their first home to buy and share as a family.

Lawrence and Sheena Lacy are raising their two daughters Lanaya, 11, and Lauren, 2. They moved into their new house in July, a home they were able to purchase through Habitat for Humanity. The family has never owned a home before. They said while they are happy to be safe in their new surroundings, they were scared to take on the responsibility of home ownership.

Sheena said she and Lawrence looked at getting their own home as an opportunity. The house they previously lived in had been burglarized. They wanted better surroundings for their daughters. They said they wanted to feel safe. They love their new home.

"We prayed about this and it came true," Sheena said.

"We used to sit on the middle of the floor and pray — we once lived in a bad place — we prayed a lot," Lawrence added.

Sheena said it is a relaxing feeling to know they are now living in a stable, safe home — a place she sees them living in for a long time.

This is a family that has endured many hardships. Lawrence is legally blind. He has glaucoma. In fact, when the family first received word about the home ownership, Lawrence was at a school in Chicago to learn to read braille. He also had to learn to function as a blind person. Sheena is the main breadwinner for this tight family unit.

"I cried when I found out we were getting the home," Lawrence said. "I was speechless."

The four bedroom, two bath home was built eight years ago by Habitat for Humanity. Previous owners let the place run down. Bob Morton, the local chapter president for Habitat For Humanity, said the house had to be renovated to allow the Lacy family to move in.

The family worked hard to get their new home ready. Sheena said they worked alongside volunteers to help get the home ready for occupancy. The girls helped paint their own rooms. Lanaya picked out lime green for her room. Lauren picked out purple for hers.

"I think you appreciate it more when you work at getting your own home," Sheena said. "When they handed us the keys, I called everybody — it was so emotional — I couldn't stop crying, and it's so nice to hear my daughters be excited to say they have their own room."

The house has a nice big porch. Sheena said as a family they spend long hours sitting on this porch. They love the open air feeling. The family has gotten to know their neighbors. The school bus stops near the home. This is a family that now has a place to call their own. They are finally comfortable.

"I'm so humble and I appreciate Habitat for helping us get our home," Sheena said. "It has changed our life and we are so grateful.

"Now we have to honor what has been given to us and keep things up — we are ready for home ownership," she added.

Morton said he and the others with the local Freeport Chapter feel good when they see a family like the Lacys live their dream. Morton said there are future plans to build more homes, but they need more money.

"It just makes me feel good when it's all done, a family is able to live a dream — it's like a grand Christmas present," Morton said. "We are hoping to start building again next spring."

Morton said the owners of a Habitat for Humanity home not only have pride in owning their own home, but also have an interest free loan and pay less on a mortgage than paying rent.

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