New Life Plan’s First Habitat Homeowner

It was Feb 5, 2018. Rodney was tired. He was 43 years old and he’d been addicted to crack cocaine and alcohol since he was 19 years old. He’d tried a couple of programs but hadn’t stuck with them; this time he knew he needed to do something different to stay sober. He found that difference at Raleigh Rescue Mission, and he’s the first graduate of the New Life Plan to move into a Habitat for Humanity Home.

NC Recovery connected Rodney to the Mission. His mother Linda and Aunt Felicia, who’d always supported him, encouraged him to go. The Mission’s New Life Plan was undergoing its own changes, and Rodney completed vocational training and graduated from a newly revamped Jobs for Life course.

“At first, being at the Mission was a struggle,” reflects Rodney. “I didn’t want to sleep in a room with three other people. I didn’t want to listen to other people tell me how to do things. But being at the Mission gave me a chance to see my worth. It gave me an opportunity to actually give myself a chance at life.”

Rodney stayed sober and worked at the Mission’s Thrift Store. He saved money and started budgeting for a vehicle and his own apartment. A trusted advisor and pastor, Claudia McNeill-Elliott, helped him find an apartment, and he received a CDL and Class A license at Carolina Trucking Academy in Garner. He met a beautiful woman named Lindsey, and their love story reads like a fairytale.

“My wife is so awesome,” Rodney says proudly. “We kept crossing paths but never really communicated. We started talking on the CAT bus on my way to recovery meetings. Then once I moved into my apartment, all the way out in Harnett County, I found out that she lived right across the street! We were even going to the same church!” The rest is history — the couple recently celebrated their one-year wedding anniversary.

Rodney learned about Habitat for Humanity through the Mission, and he set his sights on homeownership right away. COVID slowed down the application process, but once he was accepted, he and Lindsey completed their required construction and sweat equity hours. Habitat Wake recently hired Rodney as a Donation Ambassador, where he works full time picking up donations and spreading the word about Habitat Wake. With an anticipated completion date of early April, the couple’s home will be a place to raise their blended family and entertain a host of supportive family members.

Bill Ahern, CEO of Habit for Humanity of Wake County, is excited to be a part of Rodney’s remarkable story. “Our partnership with Raleigh Rescue Mission is a great example of the many organizations that exist along the housing continuum to support people in their journey to stability. Rodney started at one end of that housing continuum, and our program is at the other end. He has worked hard and been encouraged by so many people and organizations along the way.”

“Rodney’s story is a good reminder that we can’t do any of this work alone,” continues Ahern. “For both organizations and individuals, it takes a whole community coming together to make our work possible.”

John Luckett, CEO of Raleigh Rescue Mission, agrees: “We are so grateful for our partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Wake County. Our New Life Plan starts with meeting individuals and families experiencing homelessness right where they are, and culminates in sustainable, independent living that breaks the cycle of poverty for generations to come. We believe that Rodney’s success story is just the first of many success stories for mutual clients of Raleigh Rescue Mission and Habitat for Humanity of Wake County, and we can’t wait to see what else God has in store for all of us.”

As for Rodney, he’s grateful to be the one chosen for this collaboration. “I never thought I would be to this point,” he says humbly. “Addiction took me down. I hurt my family, hurt friends, had bad relationships. My kids came up seeing me do crazy things. Thank God, now I am different. I have a birthday on March 9th, and it will be the best birthday I could ever imagine.”

Happy Birthday Rodney. Congratulations to you and your wife as you move into a beautiful home of your own.

"I never thought I would be to this point"