Vaquoda Bradford and her sister, Carol, have shared many dreams of cooking for their combined families and future husbands during the holidays. Bradford now has her own kitchen in which to tackle the big family meals following the recent dedication of her new home through West Orange Habitat for Humanity.
The program and ribbon-cutting ceremony were held Thursday, Sept. 24, at the Dunbar Avenue home in Winter Garden. Before her 7-year-old daughter, London, cut the ribbon, Bradford was handed the keys to her new home.
This is the local Habitat affiliate’s 38th home built in West Orange County.
Bradford is looking forward to getting her furniture moved in and her house set up, and London is excited about having her own slumber party in her own house, something she never has been able to do.
The mother and daughter have lived with Bradford’s parents and four other family members since London was born, and the two always have shared a bedroom.
“My parents nurtured, groomed and gave me all the tools to have a great start in life,” she said in her testimonial at the 2019 Rock the House. “Through my disobedience and rebellion, I made it tough for myself. I’ve been carless and jobless at times with a child to care for.
“Not being able to provide a stable environment for a child is hard,” she said. “Wanting to do things with my child and take her places was a letdown when you don’t have funds.”
One of the lessons this taught Bradford, she said, was that creating memories was more important than how much money was spent.
“My daughter has never known the difficulty of our struggle,” she said. “I never allowed my struggles to be her worries. … However, in the midst of all that, God provided just what I needed. … I had been praying and telling God I wanted a home to raise my child in; something we could call ours.”
Marilyn Hattaway, executive director of West Orange Habitat, said it has been blessing to work with Bradford.
“We are incredibly pleased that the community supported our goal to build another home in east Winter Garden that will provide Vaquoda and her daughter with a safe and affordable home,” she said. “Vaquoda worked so very hard to fulfill her dream of owning a home, putting in more than 200 hours of volunteer labor alongside her friends, and community volunteers helped us exceed 960 total hours of volunteer construction.”
Bradford works at Orlando Internal Medicine. She was selected for the homeownership program after demonstrating a need for affordable housing and her willingness to complete financial literacy classes and save for a down payment.
“When we met Vaquoda, we were so impressed by her perseverance and determination,” Hattaway said. “We knew she deserved a home that supported her independence,” and we were excited to be her partners in that journey.”
Habitat for Humanity funded the build through local donations and funds raised by the ReStore in Winter Garden and also financed Bradford’s mortgage to purchase the home. In addition, Charlie and Karen Roper and Becky Roper were the home sponsors.
Bradford told Habitat officials and volunteers during a previous program: “Thank you for volunteering and donating to build homes, thank you for taking the time to get involved, thank you for everything you have done and everything you will do, and thank you, thank you for making our dreams come.
“This home of ours will be filled with love, peace, laughter, hope and great memories that will last a lifetime,” she said.