Home ownership a reality for Kincaid

Marianne Gillespie
A new place to call their home: Jennifer and Danny Kincaid stand on their new front step after a Habitat for Humanity house blessing Aug. 26.

Jennifer Kincaid’s son, Danny, received an unusual birthday present Aug. 26.

“‘I got a house for my birthday, mommy,’” Kincaid said Danny told her about their new home at 1504 Third St.

He did, indeed, as the mother-son duo celebrated the completion of their home with a Habitat for Humanity house blessing.

For the last two-and-a-half years, she has lived in Chillicothe above ABC Daycare.

“I have what I’ve always wanted, and that means the world to me — for both me and my son,” Kincaid said.

Born in Tucson, Ariz., Kincaid moved around a lot as a child.

Living only a short time in Tucson, her family then moved around for her father’s job in Illinois cities, including Peoria. They also moved to Virginia Beach before eventually returning to Illinois once her grandfather was sick.

When she heard about the Habitat program, she went to an orientation and submitted an application.

Habitat officials ask for an applicant to work 10 hours while the committee decides if the applicant should be approved.

She also wrote about why she needed assistance from Habitat. The organization published her story to aid sponsorships of the program, she said.

Habitat officials also looked at her living situation, which she said was not conducive to her son growing older — having sleepovers, pets and more.

Kincaid has been in the workforce since she was 16 and had her son, Danny, when she was 17.

Now she is trying to fit in school, too, by attending Illinois Central College for the last one-and-a-half years.

Unsure about what her future job may be, she sees herself working in the counseling or psychology field.

“I just like to be able to talk to people and help people,” said Kincaid.

She said she thought about a career in crime scene investigation, but said she feared she would have to move.

Future Habitat homeowners need 255 sweat equity hours completed before ground can be broken for their home, and at the end of the process, they have worked 350 hours.

Kincaid began by working at Angela Kepler’s home in Chillicothe, the second Habitat home to be built in town.

She began with the insulation work, and helped through the completion. Kincaid learned a lot with the insulation work, she said, including that more is better.

When the weather turned colder, she worked at ReStore, a shop at Main and Douglas in Peoria, which sells donated building materials, appliances, home furnishings and more.

She also spent her time feeding those in need of a meal at Loaves and Fish at the United Methodist Church in downtown Peoria.

Her friends helped her in Saturday morning’s endeavor, which also counted toward her sweat equity hours.

“It’s a great feeling to help on a cause like that,” said Kincaid. “You see people you wouldn’t expect to see — women who are pregnant and women with kids. It’s sad.”

The sadness, though, turned to familiarity as she began to recognize the same faces coming through, and personally giving her prayer cards.

Prayer cards are available to those receiving a meal so that volunteers can pray for them afterward.

“I think people nowadays don’t realize how bad it could be,” said Kincaid.

Once more Habitat homes began construction again, Kincaid brought her house-building skills to aid Chillicothe’s third Habitat home for Barbie Root. She also aided builds in Roanoke and Peoria.

When building the homes, she learned that details matter and to be precise. She also said she learned not to be afraid to ask for help when she did not know how to do something.

“This has changed my life,” said Kincaid. “I have not had a life-changing moment like this except for having Danny. This would have never happened to me except for Habitat.”

Aside from the vinyl flooring she picked out for the three-bedroom home, she said she loves a quirky thing about her home.

Walking in from the deck, there is a slight bowing of one side of the wall.

“It feels really, really safe,” Kincaid said of her 1,000- square foot home. “There was so much love in this build.”

Showing her support by working on the build were her mail recipient.

She delivers mail at Caterpillar Inc. in Mossville through GCA Services.

One woman could not attend her house blessing Aug. 26.Instead, she wants to take Kincaid out to lunch.

She said she met so many new people through the experience, and some she now considers family.

Jerry Krause, the house leader, is included in that category.

“He put so much of an extra effort into this,” she said. “He’s definitely family now.”

Krause was recognized for his time in getting the house complete in time for the house blessing.

Kincaid said he even worked during the week to make sure the house continued on schedule for the weekends.

Her son has seen a lot of hustle and bustle with the build. The first grader at South School eventually will have a birthday party in the home, Kincaid said, once all the activity of moving ceases.

Danny has overcome obstacles in his own short life. He was born with a club foot, which was turned 90 degrees.

After correcting the problem, the family makes a trip to Chicago every year to make sure his foot stays on track.

She is also part of the Peoria professional women’s group with the Friendship House.

She plans on keeping tabs on Habitat in the future.

“This is not something I’m ever going to feel like I’ve got it paid off, even after the house is paid off,” said Kincaid.

For those who may be thinking about the program, Kincaid gave some advice.

“Believe in yourself and believe that there are good people out there,” said Kincaid. “It’s a great program.”

Future homeowners must be approved for the program, which assists those with lower incomes, trouble acquiring a home loan and poor living conditions in owning a home. Those receiving a Habitat for Humanity home must be financially able to assume a mortgage.

For more information about Habitat for Humanity, call 676-6729.

“It’s so much more than just a house. It’s a lot of memories that will never go away,” Kincaid said.