Morris-Bush family, 2020

Karisma moved to Bloomington-Normal with a 6-month old baby four years ago to finish raising her younger siblings. Her mother had developed terminal Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and Karisma wanted to keep her siblings together as a family after her mom passed. At 24 she took on raising teenagers, going to parent/teacher conferences, and shouldering the responsibility of putting food on the table and a roof over everyone’s heads. Having moved here with nothing, she connected with the Baby Fold for parenting resources and the Crisis Nursery for diapers.

Her siblings are out on their own now, and she is turning her focus to providing a stable, safe home for her three children. In addition to being a fulltime mom, Karisma works full time as a collection specialist at State Farm bank, a job she loves where she knows her calm, level approach is providing essential assistance to those who have made some financial missteps. It goes hand in hand with pursuing a degree at Illinois State University in Behavioral Health – also a fulltime commitment. Her goal is to become a counselor and we don’t doubt for a minute she’ll achieve that goal.

Growing up, she moved around a lot with her mom and siblings. They never had stable living conditions and Karisma will be the first one in her immediate family to own her own house. She currently lives in an apartment complex that’s unsafe, unstable, and too small. Her three kids all share one of the two bedrooms. And although she keeps it completely organized with a sleeping area and play areas and everything in its place, there simply is not enough room.

She wants to provide her kids with a secure, safe home, with a backyard to play in, and enough room for them to have their own space. She wants it to be a welcoming place for friends and family to gather for outdoor BBQs, celebrations, holidays, and casual get togethers.

“Owning a home is a foundation. It’s security,” said Karisma. “This is the start of generational wealth, with something of real value I can pass on to my kids. God is blessing me.”

She heard about Habitat through her church, Calvary United Methodist, and a friend who happens to also be a current Habitat family. Although denied the first time she applied to Habitat McLean County, she kept an open line of communication with family services manager Holly Keller. She worked hard at paying down her debt and when she applied again, Holly said it was the most organized and complete application she’d ever received. The Board of Directors approved her unanimously this time.

Karisma is looking forward to putting in the sweat equity hours she needs to complete as part of her partnership with Habitat McLean County. She doesn’t have any building experience, but thrives on learning new things and broadening her experiences. She can’t wait to share the happiness of owning their own home with her kids and extended family.