Checking the mail at their own Habitat home

Matthew and Kaylah Martin’s new home in Centuria, Wisconsin, is painted now — most of the inside they did themselves — but they’re still unpacking boxes from their move in mid-April.

It’s been quite a road for the Martin family these last few years, with lots of stops.

“Our first apartment,” Kaylah says, “mold was getting inside. So we had to find a different place to live.”

The Martins then rented a basement apartment where the floors got damp when it rained. “Both apartments,” she says, “were making us sick.”

Worried about the health of their son Levi, now 2, and daughter Brianna, 5, the Martins made the tough decision to pick up stakes again. They moved to a shelter briefly, then lived with relatives for a time.

But now, with the keys to their home, everything has changed. Kaylah calls living in the new house “worry-free, after we’ve been worried for so long.”

Another more symbolic change didn’t strike them right away. “It was probably a week and a half after we moved when it sank in,” Kaylah says.

After living in so many places with everything rented or borrowed, the Martins finally had a mailbox. With their own name on it. And their own address.

“I was actually afraid to check the mail at first,” Kaylah says. “I thought, ‘There’s no mail in there.’ I think I was afraid that it wasn’t real somehow. So my husband was the first to check the mail.”

“Of course, there was some,” Matthew laughs. “And then I walked back into the house,” Kaylah says, “and I remember just looking around and saying, ‘This is amazing. This is our home.’”