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Joleena Mejia is a certified nurse assistant and mother of six from Illinois. She has three daughters — ages 13, 10, and 9 — and three sons — ages 3, 2, and 10 months.

The family of seven was previously living in a three-bedroom apartment that was simply too small for their needs. There was little comfort and barely any sense of privacy. But Joleena has worked hard to provide them with as much love and care as she possibly can.

Due to her life’s circumstances, Joleena never had a permanent residence before. She longed for the day her children could have their own rooms.

Up until recently, having a house that was big and affordable enough for Joleena seemed like a mere pipe dream.

But this past fall, Joleena learned her life was about to change for the better. Habitat for Humanity came upon a deserted Victorian house that was perfect for the Mejias. The only problem? It needed a complete restoration.

Built in 1891, the spacious home boasts two stories and five bedrooms. With a lot of hard work and (wo)manpower, it was about to be all hers.

On International Women’s Day, a band of kindhearted women showed up to help restore the abandoned home and make it livable again. These women wanted to do whatever they could for the single mother and her six children.

The dozens of women arrived on-site with their tool kits. Though Joleena had no previous construction experience, she jumped in and helped install the windows, sand the floors, and paint the walls.

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