Michael is a retired Veteran who has a non-service related disability, and received an honorable discharge from the US Air Force in 1971. During his service, which involved radar and air traffic control installations, he was stationed at the Clark Airbase in the Philippines and had duty assignments in Vietnam, Australia, Korea, Japan and various islands in the South China Sea. Ashtyn, whose mother Heather was the COHFH Women Build recipient this year, recently started the 6th grade, and they are happy he will have the opportunity to finish his schooling in their Habitat home.
Despite the age difference, Michael and Ashtyn have formed a special bond. “I remember the first day I met him,” said Michael. “It was frame day for Ashtyn’s family and I was out walking my dogs around the neighborhood. Ashtyn came up to me and asked if I wanted help walking the dogs, and we’ve been close ever since. I consider him to be a good friend.” Michael recently had hip surgery, and during his recovery time Ashtyn took care of his dogs. While Michael was regaining his strength, he stumbled and fell in his shower and had trouble getting back up. Ashtyn was right there to help him get back on his feet, literally and figuratively. He ended up reaching out to some of the neighbors, who all stopped what they were doing to lend a hand. Michael said that the first day he moved into his house it felt like home, but it was that moment of need that he felt extra special to be a part of the Habitat community, and thankful for Ashtyn for being there when Michael needed it most.
The definition of being a good neighbor holds a different meaning for everyone, but for Michael and Ashtyn it’s helping out wherever they can and doing their part for the community. “Everyone takes care of each other,” said Michael. That is especially true for both Michael and Ashtyn, so much so that Michael says, “Ashtyn is the only person who has a key to my house.” It didn’t take long for them to build that trust within their friendship either. “Whenever we first met, I thought that I would just be helping him with whatever he needed, and our friendship grew a lot from there. I felt a sense of responsibility being able to help him with his dogs and whatever he needed. I would do anything for him,” said Ashtyn.
One of the many aspects of the Habitat program is really special in that it allows new homeowners to meet their neighbors before moving in. It provides a unique experience for COHFH homeowners-to-be knowing they already have formed a bond with their neighbors. The Habitat community is special in that way, and if it wasn’t for this program Michael and Ashtyn might not have had the opportunity to become the great friends they are to each other.