While living in Clarkston, Thang commuted two hours to and from work each day. They welcomed a son, Jehu, and a daughter, Kelly, into their family, and Sui Men stayed home to care for them both. It soon became clear, however, that they could not stay in Clarkston. Apart from Thang’s trek of a commute, other problems emerged: high crime in the area, with break-ins and shootings happening frequently, and unfriendly neighbors who had little tolerance for a crying baby. Thang dreamed of seeing his kids have opportunities in education and recreation — but he knew it couldn’t happen for them there in a high-risk neighborhood in Clarkston.
Thang says his prayers were answered when he was chosen to receive a Habitat Home, and our very own Kelley Moon helped spearhead the raising of the funds to make it possible. Beginning in late 2015, Kelley and other volunteers from the Community Associations Institute (CAI) Committee worked with Habitat for Humanity to build a home in a safer and more convenient location for the Thang-Men family. Kelley served as co-chair on the project, seeing the home through from start to finish. The CAI committee raised over $80,000 in monetary and in-kind donations to make the project possible, and organized volunteers for all of the project’s Saturday build days — three months’ work of volunteer labor and support. They are the first outside group to ever fully fund a Habitat project, without any of the organization’s assistance. Thang and his family moved into their beautiful new home in early 2016 - and we have full confidence that this is the last time they will ever have to start over.
Jason McGahee, Author