JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - From homeless to homeowner -- that's one Jacksonville woman's story as she walked into her newly renovated and decorated home Saturday.
It was all made possible by groups who saw her hard work to inspire and educate young people in our community and they wanted to say thank you.
"Oh my! Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God!"
That's the reaction Juanita Forman had when she saw her new house for the first time. She's was surprised because she had no idea it would look so great and at 65, she never imagined she'd be a homeowner.
"This the most exciting thing. One of the most exciting things that's ever happened to me in my life," Forman said. "Owning this home, it just puts a whole new lease on life for me."
It's been a life of challenge. Forman's mother died giving birth to her and she never had a stable home life growing up.
By the age of 17, she had 4 children and later, ended up homeless in New York.
But Forman turned things around, then got a job working to help other homeless people do the same. For more than 30 years she's devoted her life to helping children, most recently at Girls Inc. in Jacksonville.
"I love working with girls and I didn't want any girl to go through the abusive relationships and having children so early, not understanding about their bodies and about life," Forman said.
Girls Inc. used to own Forman's home. It was vacant and unused, so they wanted to give it to her. But she refused, opting to purchase it instead.
Then Builders Care and ICI homes stepped in to make beautiful.
When Builders Care started the house it was just one big empty room. They turned it into a beautiful home in just a week.
The labor, materials, even the furniture were all donated. The group removed and added walls, even creating a master room for Forman and a room for her grandson.
"Something like this is hope. It's like the butterfly effect," Builders Care Executive Director Matthew Wilford said. "We do this for her she pays it forward down the road. It's just, just to be in the community and to be able to help is such an amazing thing."
"It makes me feel good and proud and happy that people thought enough of me to even do this for me," Forman said. "It's a blessing baby."
A blessing unexpected, but much appreciated and deserved.
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