Skydiving and Homeownership: Not as different as you'd think

The Habitat Michigan team is back in action this week, refreshed and mostly recovered from our annual Affiliates in Motion conference and Annual Awards Banquet last week. Thank you to all the affiliates, presenters, exhibitors, sponsors, public officials, and everyone else who made the week so special! A special congratulations once more to all of our award winners and honorees.

After the conference, the Habitat Michigan team, along with the Habitat for Humanity of Michigan Fund, decided to celebrate our accomplishments and bring some attention to Habitat by going skydiving. The connection between skydiving and the road to homeownership may seem hazy, but I found they actually have a lot more in common than you would think.

1. Initially, it is terrifying. I am in no way what you would call an “adrenaline junkie.” It takes every ounce of courage I have to get on a roller coaster. So the fact that I agreed to jump out of a plane surprised everyone, including myself. Our jump got rained out twice, and both times I thought, “Is this a sign from God that I’m not supposed to do this? Is this the dumbest thing I’ve ever done?” The morning we actually got the okay to jump, I agonized over my life choices. Who do you think you are? Why did I sign myself up for this?

Similarly, buying a home can be a big, scary deal. You suddenly have a mortgage, loan, payments, and other financial responsibilities. You have to maintain your home and your property. You have to fix stuff when things go wrong. It feels like your bank account is hemorrhaging. You begin to wonder if you’re strong enough to go through with it.

2. A support team is essential. There is no way I could have gone through with skydiving if it had not been for my colleagues jumping with me and Sam, my tandem jump instructor. As my courage waned, their excitement and encouragement built me back up. Sam walked me through all the details of what would happen, showed me how to carry myself, what to expect, and answered all my questions. On the plane ride up, Sam strapped me to himself like an oversized Baby Bjorn and reviewed all the instructions we’d covered on the ground. While I was still scared stiff, I knew Sam literally had my back the whole time, and my team was on the ground cheering me on.

At Habitat for Humanity, the minute you become a homeowner partner, you’re no longer on this journey alone. You now have an expert team available to coach and guide you towards your goals. Whether you need help securing grant funding, financial coaching, home repairs, or just need kind words of support, your affiliate team is there to help.

3. Things can get really uncomfortable. If you’ve never been skydiving, then you’ve likely never experienced the extreme dichotomy of comfort and discomfort that is the tandem harness. As my instructor Sam began tightening all the straps and buckles that would connect us in flight, I was reassured that I was not in any danger of being disconnected or slipping out of my harness. At the same time, it is not anything you’d want to wear any longer than necessary. Because I wear glasses, I had special goggles that held them tight against my face. (I could have taken them off for the jump, but who wants a blurry birds-eye view?) So my legs are starting to go slightly numb from constricted circulation, and my goggles are digging into my cheeks, but I’m happily strapped to Sam as we waddle our way towards the open plane door. I’m tempted to cling spread-eagled to the door frame like a cat resisting a tub of water. But instead, miraculously, I step out on to the ledge.

When you’re in the process of buying a home, you will likely have to tighten your belt even more than normal. You shouldn’t make any major purchases as much as possible, like a new car, because it could impact your loan. You may have to skip out on little “treat yourself” items, like your daily coffee or weekly dinner out. You may be situated in a less-than-ideal housing arrangement while your home purchase is being completed. All these discomforts are distant memories, however, once you’re in your new home, and you can see the impact it can have on your family and your financial stability.

4. But in the end, it’s all worth it. As Sam and I hurtled towards Earth, my mind was oddly blank. My whole body is attempting to figure out what is going on, and everything happened so fast my brain can’t quite keep up. The freefall only lasted a few seconds, but then the parachute opened and I was able to take in the breathtaking views around me. The discomfort I felt before faded away, and I was able to appreciate the morning light still warming up the countryside. Other parachutes swirled and glided around us, taking in the scenery. Sam even let me steer the chute for a while, instructing me to take us around in big circle over the airport. Even on the ground watching the others jump, it is a spectacular sight.  

There’s no feeling quite like entering a house and knowing that it is yours. It is a clean slate, a place that you can walk through room by room and introduce yourself. Your home can become a reflection of you: your energy, your quiet moments, your memories. Family members, friends, pets, and events may come and go through the home, leaving behind a photograph, or a newly painted wall, or just a happy thought. And that can be just as breathtaking. 

Representatives from Habitat for Humanity of Michigan, Habitat for Humanity of Michigan Fund, board members, affiliate staff, family, and friends who jumped for Habitat at Skydive Tecumseh on Sunday, September 18.

 

Maureen Savage
Communication & Marketing Coordinator