Neighbor helps neighbors build their homes

September 3, 2015

 When Twanna Jackson walks through her neighborhood and finds herself curious about the interior layout of a neighbor’s house, she doesn’t need to knock on their door and ask to be invited inside.  In many cases she already knows the house ‘inside out’ from having helped build it as a Habitat volunteer.

This tenacious single mother of two, who is 47, has worked on many parts of Habitat houses, ranging from ceilings to floors and everything in between.

"It's an amazing feeling to think that I've had a hand in that."

Jackson’s “can do” attitude first kicked in at an early age, when she disassembled then reassembled and rewired her first radio at the age of 13.  “After I did that I realized I could do anything I put my mind to,” she said.  That attitude has served her well in life and as a Habitat volunteer.

Jackson moved to Raleigh from Maryland as a single mother and become a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) to fulfill her goal of working in the healthcare industry.  As one of 12 children raised by a single mother, she not only understands the value of hard work but relishes the challenge.  “I’m not afraid of obstacles,” she said.  “They don’t scare me at all, because I see them as opportunities.”

After she works on a Habitat house all day Jackson said she finds herself feeling exhausted but exhilarated, and experiences a deep satisfaction because she can literally see how much she has accomplished in helping her neighbors achieve their dreams.  In addition, she said, “It’s a lot of fun,  and everyone should give it a try.  You also learn skills you can use in your own house.”

So what’s her single greatest motivation for continuing to work on Habitat houses?  “When I walk past a house I worked on,” said Jackson, “I remember putting in a particular wall and painting a room so that a child can have a safe, comfortable place to sleep at night.  And I look at siding I installed and realize I’m helping to keep a family cool in the heat of summer and warm during the cold of winter.  It’s an amazing feeling to think that I’ve had a hand in that.”

 -- Bradd Pavur, contributing writer for Habitat Wake