Teeja Williams of Killeen is excited to spend her first Thanksgiving in her own home, thanks to Habitat for Humanity. Williams picked the colors of taupe and beige — to create the feeling of a beach house — to be the colors adorning her new home.
“The floors are real wood,” Williams said.
She moved in Wednesday.
“There is a stainless steel refrigerator and stove, too,” Williams said.
Holidays haven’t always been easy. One recent Thanksgiving was her worst, she said.
“I didn’t have any money for me or my daughter to eat for Thanksgiving. I went to the food pantries to ask for help, and I was turned away because I only had one child,” she said.
Williams said a friend gave them food that year from extras she had received.
Williams said it was hard putting her pride aside to go ask for help.
“By you being a working woman — you know, you work every day — and you look at it like, ‘How can I not feed two of us?’” Williams said as she wiped tears from her cheeks. “It still hurts.”
Ken Cates, executive director of Habitat for Humanity, said: “It’s great to see people achieve and reach their goals and dreams. We’re here to help get you back on your feet.”
Williams’ mother died when she was 17 and living in Chicago.
“I slept anywhere I could,” Williams said. That sometimes included inside a car. She came to Texas in 2004 with her aunt, not long after her mother’s death, and has been here ever since.
Williams said this will be the best Thanksgiving because it will be in her new home.
“We’re going to do the whole thing,” she said, her voice filled with reverence. Plans include making a turkey, ham, dressing, macaroni and cheese, sweet potato pie, pound cake and greens and cornbread.
Williams’ new house, in the 700 block of Crocket Street in Killeen, is the first house Williams has owned.
“Going from not being able to feed my child to owning my own home, I just see the blessings. It’s a blessing,” she said.
Williams said their first holiday in their first home will be really exciting. Williams said she will continue a tradition that she has experienced while growing up of having her daughter in the kitchen, helping cook the meal. “And tell her to stop licking my bowl,” she said laughing.
Williams’ daughter is also very excited about having her own room. Trinity Williams, a seventh-grader at Audie Murphy Middle School, has been dreaming and talking about her new room and how she will decorate it.
The elder Williams said, “She plays basketball, so she wants her bedroom to be basketball.”
After unpacking some of the boxes, the proud new homeowner said she will put her Christmas tree up as soon as she can.
“I’m more excited to decorate this Christmas than others,” Teeja Williams said.
Since the process of building Williams’ home began a year and a half ago, Teeja Williams said she has driven by every day, in addition to spending hours at the home working alongside volunteers and builders.
She said she is overwhelmed by everything and wanted to thank Ken and Melissa Cates, and Brian Ockert and Bill Generally and others (with Habitat for Humanity) for working at her house every day.
To others who may be experiencing the same hardships she’s faced, Teeja Williams said, “There is help out there. Don’t give up. The good Lord hasn’t brought you this far to leave you.”