“There’s a stark contrast from before we had a Habitat home and had roots planted and after,” Lynnisha says, remembering life before her mom, Betty, bought a home with Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity in 1991.
“We didn’t have stable housing before our Habitat home. Before that, we were in various apartment buildings, duplexes—I can remember moving from North Minneapolis to South Minneapolis to Brooklyn Park, changing schools.”
Betty was working two jobs to provide for her two daughters (Lynnisha and Simone), but it was still difficult to find a home that was affordable. They sometimes shared places with other relatives to save money. Then, Betty found Twin Cities Habitat—a blessing in disguise, she called it. The family worked alongside volunteers to rehab their North Minneapolis Habitat home. When Lynnisha was 13, they closed on it and moved in.
Betty with daughters Lynnisha and Simone in the early 90s (left) and now (right).
From then on, Lynnisha and her sister didn’t move schools. Like her mom, Lynnisha graduated from North High. In school she worked on a teen radio show called “Let’s Motivate,” and through that found a passion for IT work. The stability she had in the family’s affordable Habitat home allowed her to explore and grow her passions, which led to higher education and an IT career she loves.
When Lynnisha began raising her own family, she knew two things: she wanted to give her kids the same stability her mom gave her, and she wanted to give back to the North Minneapolis community she loves. For Lynnisha, that meant buying a home of her own.
“It was a very deliberate, intentional decision to raise our family in the same place that we were raised,” Lynnisha says. “North Minneapolis is home…There have to be people around who stay versus leave, and I wanted to be a person who could possibly be a pivotal person in someone’s life the way other people were for me.”
Lynnisha’s two kids have only ever known the stability that comes with a safe, affordable place to live. And, like Lynnisha, they’re thriving.
When there weren’t options for soccer teams in the neighborhood, Lynnisha’s daughter asked if she could play tackle football.
“Pretty much everyone said no, but we tell our kids they can do anything,” Lynnisha says, laughing. “For her to want to try something, it didn’t feel right to tell her no. We let her play and it's been one of the most fun things to see ever.” She’s a great running back for her team, the Raiders.
Lynnisha’s son has a rare form of down syndrome, and she says that a stable home plays a big part in the consistency that helps him succeed.
“The stability meant we could focus on taking him to speech therapy and occupational therapy, and everything we needed at the time when he was diagnosed,” Lynnisha says. “Stability has everything to do with how successful he has been—he just got student of the month because he’s performing at that high of a level!”
Lynnisha’s home is a place for her kids’ friends to congregate after school and on the weekends—just like Betty’s Habitat home was the place for Lynnisha’s friends to hang out.
“For us, that stability started in middle school—but for my kids, it’s all they know,” Lynnisha says. “There’s a lot of emotional overhead that our kids just don’t have to deal with. That’s something I’m very proud of.”
Lynnisha is also proud of where she lives in North Minneapolis, and has loved seeing her neighborhood blossom and grow in the last few years. Thriving families build thriving communities, and Lynnisha is dedicated to the community that she grew up in—whether that’s by hosting a Sunday breakfast anyone is invited to, being involved in her kids’ schools, or letting someone stay at their home for a while.
“If a friend runs into a hard time and they need a place to stay or anything like that, we’re able to be that safe haven for people who might otherwise be looking for a program. We’re able to be there for our family and be a community within ourselves. I feel really honored by the fact that we’re able to give back in the community that we grew up in.”