Mud pies. Ask Charlotte what comes to mind when she thinks of her home, and she’ll tell you it’s “Making mud pies in the yard, putting leaves on top. My mom watching me from the window. The next door neighbor having Christmas gatherings. Opening the doors to family members that were struggling... Just a lot of warmth and comfort.”
She has a deep well to draw from, because she grew up in this home on a hillside corner in Hayward. Charlotte has owned it since she and her sister purchased it from their parents – Hayward natives themselves.
This home is precious to Charlotte, one she looks forward to keeping in her family for future generations. A few years ago, though, the possibility seemed less secure. She remembers the mounting stress of repair needs coming to a head in January 2019, when her family suffered the sudden and devastating loss of her beloved nephew.
“We were planning his services,” Charlotte says, “and it was literally raining in my laundry room and in one of the bedrooms. Just water, coming down.” She recalls thinking, “I don’t want my roof to cave in,” but she hid the situation from her family to avoid adding weight to a household already so filled with heartache.
Charlotte was able to secure vital home repairs through Habitat’s Home Preservation Program, which addressed the roof, repaired her siding, replaced some windows, and took care of work on her interior drywall, paint, and flooring.
When her home was recently full again for her husband’s birthday, she says, “Everyone was like, oh my God, it looks like a whole different house!”
It means Charlotte is focused not on the prospect of a failing roof, but on the ways the house brings her joy.
“Just warmth,” she says wistfully, “having people over. We love hosting, my husband loves to cook.” Her husband with his Dallas Cowboys games on in the family room while Charlotte enjoys her own shows in the back of the house. Keeping up a busy life working for the Hayward school district while her mate also works for a local school district and coaches youth football. Taking pride in a pristine, wide-windowed front room looking out onto the street she grew up on. Offering a secure place for a family member to stay while he goes to college. Her front porch with its musical collection of wind chimes and the figurines hand-painted by a family friend. A home full of family and food and noise, which she “wouldn’t change for anything.”
Without the worry of critical repairs, Charlotte’s home and her community can continue to be her history and her future. It can be the place where, as dating high schoolers, she and her husband would “stand together on the front porch,” and it can be the place where they will celebrate family milestones to come. It can be the anchor from which future generations of her family will, like Charlotte, describe themselves as having “deep East Bay roots.”
It won’t be rain in her laundry room or a drafty window. It will simply be home. “I have always lived here,” Charlotte says. “It’s roots, and it’s history, and it’s memories.”