I am in my 6th year of working and living here in Eagle County now. During these past 5 and a half years I have worked at Battle Mountain as a math teacher, a cross country coach, a track and field coach, and a nordic skiing coach. This is my 9th year in public education.
I moved here after accepting a math position at Battle Mountain from San Diego after 3 very stressful, unhappy years teaching there, on the verge of quitting teaching altogether. In accepting this position, I took about a $10,000 pay cut to my salary. Then I spent time looking for housing and the best I could find was $500 more a month in total, a huge financial swing for me. Moving through these past 5 years in a financial deficit, with a handful of expensive emergencies thrown in, I had to start considering leaving this place that I have grown to love and call home to move home to Sacramento with my parents so that I can get back up on my feet financially, and give myself the opportunity to invest in myself via homeownership. The thought of renting for the rest of my life feels financially wasteful. As much as I love my family, this was not at all the move I wanted to make professionally. I love my students and co-workers at Battle Mountain, and even just the thought of going back to teach in California triggers my anxiety. Battle Mountain is my true home and where I feel I belong.
As I started thinking more seriously about this and talking to friends and co-workers about the possibility of leaving, someone mentioned to me the new Habitat for Humanity homes that were specifically being built for Eagle County School District employees. I of course started researching, and even though I didn’t think I actually qualified, I submitted my application on the very last day possible knowing it was my last ditch effort to stay in the valley.
I am so glad I decided to apply, it has already changed so much for me. Working with Caitlin and the Habitat team over the past 11 months helped me get out of the month to month living situation into building the emergency fund that I need. It felt so surreal getting the phone call last May that I was selected for homeownership. I felt a huge wave of relief as the thoughts and stress about having to move back home were immediately gone.
I now get to continue teaching and living in the place that I love while investing in myself and being secure financially. This is the life that was starting to feel like an unattainable dream but is suddenly here. I look forward to teaching and coaching where I love to be for the next 30 years and retiring in this same beautiful place, all thanks to Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley and the opportunity they built me up to qualify for and have given me.