In 2012, Tanya Clayton and her children moved from Dickson, Tennessee to South Florida with the hope of finding stability and a better life for herself and her family. Currently, Tanya resides in a single-family home in Port Saint Lucie with her children: Austin, 15; Mercedez, 12; Eathan, 11; Owen, 10; Issak, 8; and Grayson, 4.
Tanya gave birth to her oldest son, Austin when she was 15 years old and graduated with her high school diploma a year early, at the age of 16. Tanya has always had ambition – the words “you can’t” have only ever fueled her motivation. According to Tanya, “If you want something, you have to do something about it. You can’t wait for it to fall into your lap. You need to be motivated.” To make ends meet, a pregnant Tanya worked several serving positions and began a nursing program at a Surgical Tech School. The following year, she was one of 52 accepted into a nursing school program with over 500 applicants, and today, Tanya works as an LPN at Solaris HeathCare Parkway in Stuart.
Despite having a steady job, the house the Clayton family rents is far too small to accommodate all of the kids. As a solution, Tanya converted the garage into two bedrooms, without air conditioning. The roof and windows leak with every afternoon storm, and the mold is quickly spreading throughout the house, the growing mold that triggers seizures in Tanya’s 11-year-old son, Eathan, who suffers from Asperger’s and epilepsy.
Raised by the church in a preacher’s family, Tanya and her children put their trust and faith in God’s hands. Tanya lives by the mantra, “when you’re stressed out – hand it over. When you are thinking about stress – hand it over. When you’re not sure – hand it over.” This faith brought Tanya and her family to partner with St. Lucie Habitat for Humanity.
In the fall, Tanya’s children will be attending St. Lucie Christian School and during the school week, they are not allowed to use electronics, but instead must concentrate on their homework. Completing household chores earn the use of their electronics on the weekend, and each is excited at the prospect of having larger rooms to share and personalize with paint. Mercedez looks forward to having her own room, and Owen hopes one day soon to own their very own dog.
Tanya summarizes how her Habitat home will provide stability and security for herself and her family:
“I think I will have more stability and be more active with my kids. Right now, even when I’m home, I’m consumed with financial matters. Having a Habitat home means that I don’t have to be all business. I can have fun. My children can see the fun side of Mom, not just the stressed-out side.”