EBSV0412-12-1Volodymyr and Violetta have dreamed big so that their young son, Denys, can focus on small dreams.

They moved to San Bruno from their native Ukraine at the end of 2021, when Denys was just a toddler. They left behind their backgrounds as civil engineers – Volodymyr working in the government’s construction department while Violetta worked in project administration for an IT company. As new immigrants starting over, the idea of homeownership in the Bay Area seemed a far-off dream.

One possibility surfaced, though. Their friends from Ukraine, Oleksandr and Tetiana, had arrived in the U.S. a couple of years prior, and they’d just been selected to purchase a Habitat for Humanity home at Esperanza Place in Walnut Creek. While Volodymyr and Violetta helped their friends complete their volunteer hours on the construction site, they applied to purchase a home as well. They worked with Habitat’s Housing & Financial Counseling services to help navigate a new financial system and establish their financial health – and were selected for a home just a few doors away from their friends. 

Soon, their friends were returning the favor on the construction site while Volodymyr and Violetta completed their own hours and prepared for the opportunity of affordable homeownership themselves.

EBSV0412-60-1It’s the stuff of their big dreams. “It’s shelter. It’s independence,” Volodymyr says. “No one can just come in and say, ‘Sorry, you have to move now,’ or raise our apartment’s price every year.” For Violetta, “It’s stability and an investment... For our son, it is an investment for his future, we can save something for his education.”

Violetta has memories of growing up in Ukraine in a stable home with her parents and brother, and she wants the same for their son. “I want Denys to grow up and say, ‘This is my parents’ home’ – not some different apartments where he grew up. I think it’s important for a child to have a stable place like I had when I was a child. It gave me a lot of things that I didn’t think about. Maybe my parents would think about it, but I didn’t.”

That is what Volodymyr and Violetta dream of for Denys: a childhood free from worry about matters like housing security. And with homeownership at Esperanza Place nearly realized, they can see that childhood taking shape.

EBSV0412-58“He can’t wait,” Violetta says, “because firstly he will have a separate room. And secondly, he wants to play with his monster trucks, to build a perfect track for his cars.”

“And he can paint the walls any color that he wants!” Volodymyr adds, noting that their son may want bedroom walls “red like a fire engine.”

There’s the Iron Horse Trail just steps from their future home. A sport court where play with other children waits outside the front door. A space to study, a place to read. Their friends as neighbors, in a vibrant community they’ve begun getting to know. The growth chart that Violetta imagines marking in their kitchen, a sign to Denys that, “You know that this is your place.”

And it is a place built with love. “We met people who donated money, volunteered to build our homes from scratch,” Violetta marvels. “Wow. People who help strangers to build their home.” 

“And they do it just to do it,” adds Volodymyr. “Just to help someone. It’s incredible.”

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