For Willette, known to her friends as Shell, and her daughters Autumn, then 16, and Trinity, then 9, moving into their own Habitat home in Hudson in 2012 truly transformed their lives. At the time, Shell was working two jobs and their previous housing came with a very noisy neighbor upstairs whose friends frightened her and the girls.
Shell describes her pre-homeowner self as someone “who had no confidence at all. I was so afraid to fail that I wouldn’t try new things. Trinity was more like me, shut down and shy. She was a scared little girl who didn’t want to go to school.”
Today Shell says, “We’re all happier and more secure. For me, it began with working on our house. I didn’t know anything about construction, but they just said, ‘Here’s what you’re going to do’, they showed me how and I did it!”
Autumn serves as a mentor with the Mental Health Association of Columbia-Greene Counties, attends Columbia-Greene Community College and wants to be a defense attorney. Trinity is a happy 8th grader at Hudson Junior High who loves school.
What’s Shell up to? In May 2015, she took a job with the Mental Health Association of Columbia-Greene Counties as a community schools coordinator in the Hudson City School District. She’s the liaison between school and parents, working to encourage parental involvement in families whose kids have attendance or other issues. “I feel like I can connect with parents, give them confidence and get them involved. And, this year I took my first-ever paid vacation!”
The icing on the transformational cake? In June of 2016, Shell was elected to the Hudson City School District’s Board of Education. “Before we partnered with Habitat, serving on the school board would never have crossed my mind.”