Home for the Holidays
We’re Facebook friends with Juli Newton, and have watched her document her journey into a Habitat home with pictures and updates. What we noticed the most was her smile and her positive attitude. She was obviously willing to put in the work, but she seemed to do it so cheerfully. When we saw her pictures of the dedication ceremony, we reached out to her to see if she wanted to share her experience from a first-person point-of-view. She agreed immediately and sent us her article very quickly. Clearly her story was ready to be told, with a minimal amount of editing, we might add. Juli said this process really added to her whole journey, and we feel very proud to be a part of that. This is what community journalism is all about to us — connecting people and sharing stories.
By Juli Newton Oct 2023
I was born in Southport like my father and my grandmother before me. I have always loved Southport as they did too. Of course I didn’t realize until later in life how wonderful that small detail made my life. I couldn’t wait to leave once I graduated from high school! I thought it was too slow and boring perhaps. I stayed away for about seven years before I made my way back home the first time. My mother was always here for me when I came running back home, offering a place of refuge to regroup and get my feet back under me. After about 10 years, life circumstances took me away from Southport again. Over the course of nearly 20 years, I lived in Virginia and never thought I would come back to Southport.
Life has a way of changing things up on us though, and in 2019 through a series of events, I found myself coming home again. Only this time, for the first time, my mother wasn’t here to greet me, as she had passed away some years before.
It was strange coming home at first. As with many other times in my life, I wasn’t able to say exactly why I felt compelled to come back and start from scratch. There were many moments when I wondered if I had made the right decisions. There we times I thought of giving up and going back to Virginia.
However, with a vast network of encouraging family members and friends, I persevered and made a home for myself.
I felt the hand of God had blessed me with a great job that made it possible for me to move out on my own after living with family members for just over a year. I quickly learned how much Southport had changed as I struggled to make ends meet on a monthly basis, living in what I considered to be one of the last affordable places to be found in the town where I grew up. I was amazed at the fact that my little fishing village of a hometown was now the land of million dollar homes and skyrocketing rents.
About three years passed and I was content, life had different plans and the day my rent increased to an unsustainable amount was the day the wheels of fortune began to roll my way. It was right after that fateful day that sent me into a bit of a financial panic that I made a phone call to Brunswick County Habitat for Humanity.
I told him them my story and how I didn’t know how I was going to make it on this increased rent and they set my feet on the path to homeownership. I never even dreamed that this could happen and yet here I am just over a year later about to move into my new “forever” home!
Just so we are clear, there is a lot that goes into a Habitat Home. And no, they did not give it to me! I had to work hard over the past year putting in “Sweat Equity Hours” and keeping myself on a very tight budget. I worked closely with many people over the last 16 months. From the day I signed all the preliminary documents and provided all the necessary paperwork to the day I cut the ribbon at the dedication ceremony, the journey has been full of learning and challenging moments. I have grown as my house has been built.
What was the hardest part for me? Probably the patience this journey required. I have never been strong in that department, but this journey has taught me to trust the process and allow things to unfold. And I have been amazed, humbled, and in awe of just how amazing the unfolding has been.
My greatest lesson is that you just never know what life holds around the corner for you and those things that were meant to harm can indeed be turned into things that bring beauty and meaning to life.