Ashton, 13, Chloe, 11, Cameron, 15, and their mother Joanne Wilson pose for a photo in front of their Habitat for Humanity townhome in Bellevue. Photo by Jose Perez.                                 Ashton, 13, Chloe, 11, Cameron, 15, and their mother Joanne Wilson pose for a photo in front of their Habitat for Humanity townhome in Bellevue. Photo by Jose Perez.                                 Ashton, 13, Chloe, 11, Cameron, 15, and their mother Joanne Wilson pose for a photo in front of their Habitat for Humanity townhome in Bellevue. Photo by Jose Perez.                                 Ashton, 13, Chloe, 11, Cameron, 15, and their mother Joanne Wilson pose for a photo in front of their Habitat for Humanity townhome in Bellevue. Photo by Jose Perez.

Ashton, 13, Chloe, 11, Cameron, 15, and their mother Joanne Wilson pose for a photo in front of their Habitat for Humanity townhome in Bellevue. Photo by Jose Perez. Ashton, 13, Chloe, 11, Cameron, 15, and their mother Joanne Wilson pose for a photo in front of their Habitat for Humanity townhome in Bellevue. Photo by Jose Perez. Ashton, 13, Chloe, 11, Cameron, 15, and their mother Joanne Wilson pose for a photo in front of their Habitat for Humanity townhome in Bellevue. Photo by Jose Perez. Ashton, 13, Chloe, 11, Cameron, 15, and their mother Joanne Wilson pose for a photo in front of their Habitat for Humanity townhome in Bellevue. Photo by Jose Perez.

Habitat townhome provides stability

Bellevue family facing serious health and housing challenges receive home

  • Thursday, November 1, 2018 10:59am
  • Life

By Teresa Moore

For Habitat for Humanity

Life isn’t meant to be lived in cheap motel rooms — especially for a single mother with multiple sclerosis (MS), a teenager with cerebral palsy, a boy with ADHD and an 11-year-old girl yearning for stability. But, before Habitat for Humanity stepped in, the homeless Wilson family had no other choice.

Mercer Island native Joanne Wilson lived a dream life before those miserable motel days set in. She had a loving family, was an active athlete, earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business, landed a high-paying job in Silicon Valley, married an ambitious guy and had a fancy home in Bellevue.

Then, in her late 20s, Joanne began experiencing odd symptoms — vertigo, vision problems, slurred speech, weakness in her limbs and debilitating fatigue. When she was diagnosed with MS, “I wiped away my tears and from that day forward, I told myself I’m going to live.”

But it wasn’t easy. After moving back to the Seattle area in 2001, her fatigue and vision issues made it impossible for her to work. Joanne and her husband set about building their family and in six years, they had Cameron, Ashton and Chloe. A new MS drug made it easier to manage her symptoms.

As she was still struggling to find the best care for Cam’s cerebral palsy and when her youngest was just a year old, her husband asked for a divorce. As Joanne’s savings and support payments dwindled over the next several years, she could no longer afford any suitable housing.

“We’d try living with my parents, but they’re elderly and with three kids in the house — two with special needs — it was too much for them,” Joanne explains. “So, we’d go camping and live in motels.”

Sitting in the office of a food bank/homeless assistance organization, Joanne spied a flyer about Habitat for Humanity.

“I thought Habitat just built homes in third-world countries. I didn’t know they were here — and in Bellevue,” she says.

Within a few months she’d qualified, painstakingly put in her sweat equity at a Habitat Store and moved into a disability-friendly, one-story townhouse in a 10-unit Habitat complex in Bellevue — a home repurchased from another Habitat family that had just moved out.

“We’d been homeless for almost a year, so this home means the world to me and my kids,” Joanne says. “They finally have security. They’ve always wanted a dog and we now have Daisy. We love it. And my mortgage is affordable on my disability payments.

“Now, I can work on my health. I don’t have the stress of where I’m going to stay, am I going to have enough money, will it last long enough. I can start saving money for my kids’ college. And it’s all because of Habitat,” she said.

To learn more about Habitat for Humanity Seattle-King County go online to www.Habitatskc.org or contact chief development officer Amy Farrier at amy.farrier@habitatskc.org, 206-456-6943.

In Seattle-King County and around the world, Habitat for Humanity brings people together as volunteers, homeowners, donors and community members to create strength, stability and self-reliance through shelter. Here , Habitat for Humanity constructs affordable homes, revitalizes neighborhoods, repairs homes for low-income people and seniors, operates discount home improvement stores in Southcenter and Bellevue, and mobilizes more than 4,300 volunteers a year.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@bellevuereporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.bellevuereporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in Life

2021 Lexus RX 350L. Courtesy photo
Car review: 2021 Lexus RX 350L

By Larry Lark, contributor It’s always a good day when a Lexus… Continue reading

2021 Chevrolet Blazer. Courtesy photo
Car review: 2021 Chevrolet Blazer

By Larry Lark, contributor When it comes to certain car models they… Continue reading

The Cadillac CT4 is designed to appeal to a new generation of Cadillac buyers with its athletic design and astute driving dynamics. Courtesy photo
Car review: 2020 Cadillac CT4 Premium Luxury

By Larry Lark, contributor With apologies to Oldsmobile, “the 2020 CT4 Premium… Continue reading

2021 Mercedes E-350 luxury sedan. Courtesy photo
Car review: 2021 Mercedes E-350 luxury sedan

By Larry Lark, contributor Mercedes-Benz occupies rarified air in the automobile pantheon.… Continue reading

Deception Pass State Park. Deception Pass is a strait separating Whidbey Island from Fidalgo Island. File photo
Free Park Days in 2021 start in January

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission will again offer 12 free… Continue reading

Courtesy photo/Artists Sunday
Artists Sunday, following Black Friday, puts out call for participants before Nov. 29

The movement has a website that offers a free directory of artists and art organizations that participate

File photo from September 2016, when hundreds participated in the Alzheimer’s Association’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s event at Redmond Town Center.
Eastside Walk to End Alzheimer’s Oct. 10

Similar to other walk events in the region, Alzheimer’s Association encourages registered users to walk in a location of their choice

Bellevue Jazz and Blues Festival streaming free for five evenings
Bellevue Jazz and Blues Festival streaming free for five evenings

Over 20 artists will perform in early October

Archived photo of Kelsey Creek Farm Fair/Courtesy of city of Bellevue.
Kelsey Creek Farm Fair canceled

The fair was scheduled for it’s 39th annual event on Oct. 3

Deyonté Weather Collection available to view during Fashion Week. Courtesy photo/The Bellevue Collection
Fashion Week at the Bellevue Collection is available virtually and in-person

Proceeds for its online runway shows go to Bellevue LifeSpring.

Diya Garg, left, distributes Mighty Crayon recycles crayons and coloring books for Seattle students. Courtesy photo/Diya Garg.
Getting crayons to kids runs in the family

Eastside nonprofit Mighty Crayon is relaunched by younger sister of founder, repurposing used restaurant crayons