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Education: The foundation for a healthy home

Posted by Patrick Dunn on 1:49 PM on November 1, 2013

Theresa Comer sits on the front porch of her almost 20-year-old home. A stained glass window with vibrant lilies and three ichthys fish symbols welcome anyone who visits.

“It was custom-made by one of the practitioners at St. John Newman, the crew who worked on our house,” says Theresa. “They even provided a babysitter on the days I had to put in sweat equity hours.” Theresa fondly remembers the South St. Paul build of 1992, which produced the home where they’ve raised four children and realized dreams of higher education.

“Because the house payment was affordable we were able to pay for daycare and those first courses. We could have never gone back to school if it wasn’t for Habitat,” says Theresa. Before getting their Habitat home, Michael was working two jobs while Theresa took care of the children. There was no time for either to even think about returning to school.

“We had three boys under the age of three, an 8-year-old daughter, and we were living in a 3-bedroom apartment with no elevator. It wasn’t substandard, but it was far from ideal.” After settling into their Habitat home Theresa found grants to help her enroll at Inver Hills Community College. Shortly after, Michael too decided it was time to go back to school. But they knew they couldn’t be in school simultaneously. After weighing options, they decided Theresa would look for full-time work so Michael could be a full-time student.

“It was an incredible realization, and boost to my self-esteem, that I could support the family while Michael went back to school full-time. It was really the best option for the both of us.”

Michael completed his Bachelor of Science in Quantitative Methods and Computer Science at St. Thomas University in 1996. Theresa was now up to bat.

“I started weekend college at St. Kate’s in 2000. The kids were old enough that we didn’t have to worry about daycare.”

In 2002, Theresa became the second in the family with a Bachelor’s, this time in Information Management.

Today, Michael is an Applications Portfolio Manager for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota. Theresa is an Information Specialist at St. Kate’s. The Comer’s daughter, Stephanie, graduated from the TESA program at the Dakota County Technical College in 2005. Mick, their oldest son, graduated with honors from Luther College in 2010 and now works for IBM in Michigan. The two youngest boys, David and Timothy, are each studying Computer Science at Augsburg and St. Thomas, respectively.

Give to the Max Day 2013

Starting today, you can pre-schedule your Give to the Max Day 2013 gift to Twin Cities Habitat. A generous donor is matching the first $75,000 we receive - so your gifts are worth double! Help us reach this match.

If you are having a problem completing your scheduled donation for Give to the Max Day, the most likely cause is that you are not signed in on the GiveMN site when you are trying to donate. To fix this, press the “sign up” button at the top-right corner of Habitat’s page and enter your email address and a password before you try to donate. Since your credit card won’t be charged until the 14th (because it is a scheduled gift for the actual day of Give to the Max) the GiveMN site needs an email address to tie the card to until that time. Once you are signed in, you shouldn’t have any problem entering your information and making your gift. 

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Tags: Family Spotlight, Archive

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