‘With these hands…’ walls will be raised: Strong beautiful women unite to build a home for one very strong beautiful woman

Published 10:52 pm Saturday, August 23, 2008

As a proud supporter of the Pearl River County Habitat for Humanity, it is with great pleasure that I am announcing two very exciting and important bits of information. First, the “Raising the Walls Women Build” project that the organization is hosting will begin August 26. The build crew will consist entirely of women who will unite to see another American dream come to fruition for one resident of our community. Female participants are traveling from all over the country to make sure that happens.

Secondly, I get to tell you all about the outstanding young woman who has been awarded the “Women Build” home — Courtney Zoerner.

Zoerner of Picayune is a young, single mother of two: daughter Danielle and son Jordan — ages seven and two respectively. Understandably her financial situation, up till recently, was less than steady.

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While her situation may not have been unique, her journey to overcome her obstacles and make an almost 100 percent turn around is an inspiring tale that must be told.

Zoerner originally applied a year ago for a Habitat home and was turned down. When she got her letter saying she had been denied because of credit issues she called and asked what she needed to do to get a house.

After speaking to Hedy Cibula who serves on the Habitat Board of Directors, Zoerner knew she would need to straighten her credit and she needed to be able to save a good bit of money. Cibula told her to call back once she had completed those tasks.

“It took me about eight months to get my credit straight [and save the money]. It wasn’t easy, but I called and said, ‘I got it.’ Ms. Hedy was shocked that I called and I was shocked that she was shocked,” Zoerner said.

Cibula then suggested that Zoerner take some budgeting and financial classes, which she did, and eventually she was ready to reapply for a Habitat home.

“I got it,” Zoerner said. It took a year, but she will indeed “get it” — a home of her own.

Coming out and telling her story was not easy. She is still struggling with containing her tears of joy at the prospect of being a homeowner. But she truly believes if her story can help even one person, it was worth it.

“If I can do it, anybody can do it with some effort,” she said. Zoerner figured out a way to pay her rent and other bills while putting money into savings. She worked extra jobs to make it happen — babysitting, dogsitting, whatever.

She is extremely grateful for Habitat who she feels always looked at her like she was a person and treated her as such when other people didn’t.

“Ms. Hedy always said what I needed to hear when I needed to hear it. Ms. Hedy is wonderful,” said Zoerner. She feels that all the folks at Habitat are a blessing.

Talking to Holly Hopper, Habitat volunteer coordinator, it would seem that they all feel the same about Zoerner. Hopper said they were all just amazed that she actually took their advice, set goals for herself and achieved them. If everything goes according to plan, she will be a real success story for the organization.

Zoerner said she is ready to be truly happy and feels that with this home, her family will finally be complete.

If you are anyone you know is interested in becoming a Habitat volunteer, please call 601-799-4636 or visit www.habitat-prcms.org.

Women — this is especially your chance to help make that difference for Courtney and her children. Sisters in power tools unite!