The Home That Built Me:

Joy's Story

When you’re six years old, everything in the world seems big. But for six-year-old Joy Sebastian, even she knew that the apartment she shared with her parents and brother in Hazard’s projects was small. Too small, in fact, for a whole family.

“It was so small that we couldn’t even have a kitchen table,” Joy said.

For Joy‘s family, the kitchen was the center of the universe. It was where all of their family gatherings happened. But living in a tiny apartment didn’t offer enough space to host a family dinner – not for a large, Appalachian family of multiple aunts and uncles, cousins, and grandparents.

That was before Joy‘s family moved into a new HDA home in the tiny community of Dwarf.

“We moved in right before Thanksgiving,” Joy said, happy to recall the memory. “I remember being so excited that everybody was going to get to come to my house for once to eat Thanksgiving dinner! That’s something we’d never gotten to experience before.”

After that, Joy said her entire family would gather at their new home to celebrate every holiday.

"I felt like we'd moved into a mansion from that itty-bitty apartment!" she added. "I felt like my room was so huge. That house had so much life in it."

She continued, “Looking back, that home provided stability for my family. To have a home is a blessing, and I wouldn’t have had that without this program.”

Joy recalled that moving into a larger home was a big transition for her and her family.

“We went from living in the city projects to living out in the country!” she said. 

Though she moved out of her parents’ HDA home when she was 18, its imprint is still felt in her life today.

“(That house) made my parents more hopeful,” she said. “It was something they’d wanted to provide for us for so long, but they just weren’t able to. We wouldn’t have been able to have a home like that, if it wasn’t for the Housing Development Alliance.”

"I had good parents, and my parents would have been wonderful no matter where we lived. But I still know some of the people who lived in the projects before we got an HDA home. Those people had good parents, too, but a lot of them are not doing so well today. I think a lot of the reason I've been successful in life has to do with me getting out of that environment." - Joy Sebastian

Update on Joy

Today, Joy is the proud mother of two healthy boys, ages six and two. She works as a Registration Clerk for the Primary Care Center of East Kentucky in Hindman. Her brother, who she said is also doing well, makes his living as a truck driver.

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