For the Kids
“If I can help just one child, it will have all been worth it,” says Tulsa Habitat homeowner and volunteer Diane Kaluzny. If you’ve ever met Diane, you know this phrase isn’t a cliché. Her passion for Habitat for Humanity’s mission and giving children the best opportunities is obvious. She has volunteered on almost 20 homes, and is such a loyal volunteer that you may even find her working alone, painting and doing other jobs on days when other volunteers are unavailable.
Diane is no stranger to doing things on her own. She lost her father when she was only four, and her mother died suddenly when she was 14 years old, leaving Diane and her siblings to fend for themselves. When they lost the family home, her siblings all went their separate way, and Diane dropped out of school, ending up on the streets. “School just didn’t seem so important anymore.” says Diane. “I was pushed through to the 10th grade, but I could not read. When you don’t know how to read, you have to learn to make it in other ways.”
Despite her struggles and setbacks, Diane counts the day a friend told her about Tulsa Habitat for Humanity as a bright spot. “I volunteered on a home build before I even knew how the program worked. I was just trying to help out a family,” she says. On that first build, she learned about the program and realized that she might qualify for a Habitat home herself. She also learned how a Habitat home makes a profound impact on a child’s life. “It’s not about just putting parents in a home, it is about putting kids in a home,” she says, “that means more to me than anything.”
Diane moved into her Habitat home in 2013, where she lives with her youngest son. Her other four children are all on their own; three work for large companies and one owns her own business. “And all of them can read,” she proudly declares. Two days after she moved into her home, Diane was back volunteering for Habitat. She hasn’t slowed down. When she isn’t working on a Habitat build, you can find her working in her yard or taking reading classes at the local library