Vietnam veteran becomes first-time homeowner in Indy thanks to Habitat for Humanity

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – For the past month, Whitney Hamilton has been constantly working and he also can't stop smiling.

"I keep pinching myself every day," Hamilton said. "I drive past here every day like ‘is this really happening to me?’”

The Vietnam-era veteran is about to become a first-time homeowner. It's a lifelong dream coming true after a lifelong journey.

"My story is that I got hooked on drugs and alcohol," Hamilton said. "I was homeless in Texas for about four years, sleeping on the streets and stuff, about a couple years here staying in missions, wherever I could lay my head."

After a while, the father and grandfather decided enough was enough. With help from some local organizations, he got back on his feet.

“Coming up on five years clean next month,” he said with a smile. "I had to do some work you know, but I feel like I'm being rewarded for it.”

That reward is now visibly coming together. He’s put in hundreds of hours of work into his brand new home, alongside dozens of volunteers with Habitat for Humanity

"That's just awesome right there," Hamilton said. "That people give up some of their time for someone they don’t even know."

His new soon-to-be next door neighbor, Cieara Jake, is also putting in work on her own Habitat home. She's also set to become a first-time homeowner.

"It's a wonderful feeling," Jake said. "It’s a feeling I've never felt before.”

As these homes get closer and closer to being complete, the future homeowners start to see their hard work pay off, proving that it’s never too late to accomplish your dreams.

“Never give up," Hamilton said. "Just keep trying. You can accomplish anything that you want.”

These homes are not given away for free. Both homeowners have to put in 300 hours of work before they can purchase the home from Habitat, which in turn charges them zero percent interest.

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