The Arnold Family

Katie appreciates what it means to be patient.

During the pandemic, she left her job with the Department of Community Health so that she could care for her mentally challenged brother.

The job search took much longer – and was much more challenging – than she ever imagined.

During those difficult times, Katie learned about perseverance, thanks, in large part, to the three 8½ x 11 pieces of paper that hang on her bedroom wall. Filled with advice for embarking on a successful job search, the pages brighten her spirits – and serve as a reminder that good things always take longer than expected.

“No matter what you do in life, be patient. If there is something you want, work for it,” Katie says. “Pray. Be ready. Prepare yourself.”

That spirit epitomizes all the Arnolds have endured – and the opportunities that lie ahead.

This summer, Katie, her brother, and her son will have a home to call their own.

For now, the build site is empty, but thanks to the generosity of Habitat for Humanity/DeKalb County donors and the hard work of countless volunteers, the vacant lot will be transformed.

Soon, a three-bedroom, two-bathroom house will grace the site – a far cry from the Stone Mountain apartment where the Arnolds have been living for the past three years.

Her son, who is 27, shares a bedroom with his uncle.

During visits, Katie’s 10-year-old grandson sleeps in his grandmother’s bedroom in a small children’s tent.

From time to time, there are issues with mold and cockroaches. And because there is no balcony or porch, Katie’s brother, who enjoys feeling the warm sun on his face or hearing the birds chirp, spends most of his time inside.

But for the Arnolds, all that is about to change.

For more than three decades now, Habitat for Humanity/DeKalb has been providing a hand-up – not a hand-out.

The Arnolds, for instance, were among nearly 40 families to apply for the new home, and two others that Habitat for Humanity/DeKalb soon hopes to build.

They were accepted into the program based on need.

Like anyone purchasing a home, the owner had to undergo a credit check. He will pay a mortgage and taxes and homeowner’s insurance. He will be expected to bring out-of-pocket money to closing. And he will be responsible for upkeep and repairs.

But unlike most homeowners, the Arnolds will also help build their own home from the ground-up. It’s all part of the Habitat for Humanity model known as “sweat equity.”

Mr. Arnold, who has a full-time job bringing animated graphics to life through movement and motion, is planning on using what he learns during the construction to help other soon-to-be Habitat for Humanity homeowners.

“As we’re building, I’m learning,” Mr. Arnold says. “It all comes around.”

In the meantime, the family is looking forward to the day when they have a home of their own – a fully functioning kitchen where Katie could bake cookies with her grandson; a dining room for the family to sit and eat and talk; a backyard for her brother.

“My mom has sacrificed so much for me,” says Mr. Arnold. “I want to make sure she’s taken of and that my uncle is taken care of, too.”

The sentiment moves Katie to tears.

“This,” she says, “is a blessing for us.”

Indeed, it is.

To continue to make dreams like theirs a reality in DeKalb County, we need your help. If you’re interested in volunteering or making a financial donation, you can learn more at

Rest assured, the Arnolds and future Habitat homeowners won’t ever forget your kindness.

“Thank you,” Mr. Arnold says. “I love this program. It’s designed to help. And for anyone who wants to help, nothing is stopping you.”

Says Katie: “You make people’s dreams come true. You make people happy.”