WEST FARGO — Jamie Roach said she’s wanted her own home for as long as she can remember, dating back to when she was a little girl.
Growing up on the Standing Rock Reservation in South Dakota, she and her sisters were happy that their mother was finally in a position to get a home when tragedy struck.
Her alcoholic father killed her mother, leaving the family homeless.
More troubles followed Roach, with a pregnancy at age 15 and later substance abuse. Roach would have three more children, still with no place to call home.
But after relocating to the Fargo-Moorhead area about three years ago, connecting with people who could help and finding a steady job as a certified nursing assistant, the dark days for Roach are beginning to fade.
On Thursday, June 24, Lake Agassiz Habitat for Humanity (LAHFH) raised the first wall on what will be a new home for Roach, 34, and her children — Kyla, 19, Trent, 14, Angel, 13, and Laila, age 7.
The home construction project, going up at the hands of mostly women volunteers from the Women Build group, is not far from Westside Elementary School.
“I can't believe this is happening for my family,” Roach said, adding, “I mean, it just still hits me.”
The home is one of four builds this year for LAHFH, which is celebrating its 30th year. Over that span, the organization has built 63 homes in partnership with local families in six communities throughout Cass and Clay counties.
Individuals and businesses donate money and materials for the homes, and volunteers provide most of the labor.
Land for this project was donated by Mary Tuttle. She owned a home on the property that was damaged by fire and torn down several years ago.
The Women Build Committee putting up Roach’s home is chaired by Beth Brasel, facilities manager at BNG Team, a business development service in Fargo.
Brasel told the crowd gathered Thursday it was a group effort, done with love. “Everyone's played a part, no matter how small or how big,” she said.
The recipient families do their part as well, investing 250 hours of sweat equity into building their home and the homes of others. They also make mortgage payments based on their income, which go into a fund used to build more houses.
Amy Feland, who works with Lakes & Prairies Community Action Partnership in Moorhead, has known Roach since she moved here.
Feland is involved with a workforce program called Career Connect, in partnership with the United Way and Minnesota State Community and Technical College.
Feland helped Roach apply for jobs, sign up for a CNA class, enroll in nursing school, get her driver’s license back and pay down debt — all skills she never learned growing up. She’s also been a valuable mental health support, a fact Roach acknowledged during Thursday's program.
Being in a position to have her first home is something Roach is getting used to, and Feland has to convince her she's worthy of it.
“I just continue telling her to take it," Feland said. "You deserve it and your family deserves it."
The support of the community means the world to Roach.
“To know there's somebody out there that cares gave me hope, gave me faith to keep going and show my kids how to live, you know, through tragedy and come out with a beautiful life,” she said.