Congratulations, Toto Mikango family. On Feb. 24, the family of six celebrated the completion of their Springfield three-bedroom home.
The home is the result of a collaboration between GSHFH and the City of Springfield’s HOME funds. Construction began in early 2019. Since that time, more than 200 volunteers and a considerable amount of youth engagement from YWCA Youth Build, AmeriCorps NCCC teams, Community Works, and students from local colleges helped complete this project.
“I am so glad and joyful in my heart to be here today for the purpose of being housed by Habitat,” said family patriarch TupaTupa Toto in his native Swahili. A translator stood by his side, deciphering his words and heartfelt message.
TupaTupa, his wife Faida Tausi, and their children are a refugee family from Africa who immigrated to the United States in 2015. Under the guidance and support of Jewish Family Services of Western Massachusetts, they settled in Springfield and enrolled the children in school. In the six years since they arrived, they’ve integrated themselves in the community and expanded their family, welcoming their fourth child. At church, another refugee told TupaTupa and Faida about Habitat and how his family benefited from the GSHFH homeownership program. Realizing owning a “personal house” is a dream of theirs, they applied to our homeownership program several times before being accepted in October 2020.
“Being able to celebrate these home dedications is probably one of the best parts of this job and knowing we get to build a home for a deserving family,” said Aimee Giroux, GSHFH Executive director.
City of Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno spoke of the neighborhood, saying he knows it well. He also mentioned the partnership between GSHFH and Springfield, the work that goes into building a Habitat house, and the value a partner family brings to a new neighborhood.
“This area is my old stomping ground. My grandparents lived here, so I know this area very, very well and the sweat equity you, Mr. Mikango, and your family have put into this home, we deeply appreciate that,” Mayor Domenic Sarno said. “What I appreciate immensely is a good and beautiful family that is going to help make this neighborhood and this area stronger.”
Welcome home, Toto Mikango family.