From homeless to homeowner: Ms. Juanita finds a home

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Paying it forward. That is what one Jacksonville organization is doing for Ms. Juanita. The 65 year-old child-advocate and motivational speaker went from homeless to homeowner on Saturday. She bought the house on Nitram Ave from Girl Inc. of Jacksonville. The house was being used as a meeting place. After buying the home, Builders Care and ICI homes stepped in and renovated the house- free of charge. The renovation took 60 volunteers about five days to finish.

Matthew Wilford, Executive Director of Builders Care, spearheaded the $8,000 project.

"We were in New Orleans and we moved back for this reason, alone," said Wilford. "I am so humbled and it's all about Ms. Juanita today."

However, the road to this American Dream wasn't so easy for Ms. Juanita. Her mother died at child-birth and by the time Juanita was 17, she was a mother of four, living in a homeless shelter. Just four years ago, she lost her daughter to cancer.

Inspired to turn her life around, Ms. Juanita started teaching classes about getting into school and staying self-sufficient on the streets. Today, she works at Girls Inc. of Jacksonville as the Adolescent Class Facilitator. She inspires young ladies to, "keep your eyes on the prize."

Ms. Juanita says now, she wants to take some time for herself, which includes plans for a relaxing cruise and some karaoke singing.


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