New Choctaw Home Has Special Meaning for a Family in Cameron
Photos by Deidre K. Elrod / Choctaw Nation
New homeowner Brittany Taylor does the honors with the scissors. Chief Gary Batton, Assistant Chief Jack Austin Jr., and District 4 Tribal Councilman Delton Cox join in the ribbon cutting ceremony for 10 new homes in Cameron on Friday. The construction project is through the Housing Authority of the Choctaw Nation’s LEAP program.
Choctaw Nation tribal officials and family members congratulate Brittany Taylor as she receives the keys to her new home Friday, August 10 in Cameron.
CAMERON, Okla. – One beautiful new brick home being built in Cameron, a town of 115 households, according to the U.S. Census, would be noticed. But, on Friday, August 10, the Choctaw Nation Housing Authority opened 10. This called for a ribbon cutting ceremony, tours to be conducted and family photos in front of their new homes.
As Chief Gary Batton spoke about the efforts being made by the Tribal Council to improve the quality of life of tribal members, he said “At the end of the day, it’s all about helping tribal members… helping people to become homeowners. Among the new homeowners, today is a single mother with two children who’s been through bankruptcy.”
For that homeowner, Brittany Taylor, being handed the keys to her new front door is a milestone of the Choctaw Spirit.
“I turned 33 yesterday,” Taylor said. But there has hardly been time to sit down and celebrate. “I’m moving into my new home,” she said. She has a lot to do before she gets back to her three jobs. She has been renting for the past three years in nearby Pocola.
It’s not been easy for the single mother. She had to drop out of college and had a financial set back after a divorce. “My car was even repo-ed,” she said.
Still, the mother of two, ages 8 and 10, saw there were those who needed help as much as she did. Taylor had the heart to become a foster parent to three more children in need of a home, all under age five. The Native youth were under the care of the State of Oklahoma. She took care of them until they could be returned to their own families. While there are no additional children with her at this time, she knows there will be more in her future.
A firm believer in community service, Taylor volunteered three years with Paint the Park Pink. The breast cancer awareness drive is Fort Smith, Arkansas’s largest fundraiser.
Taylor also has been employed full time at iHeartRadio in Fort Smith as a sales assistant for five years. “I’ve taken on extra duties essentially as office manager, ordering supplies and other things,” she said. She also works two part-time jobs, at car sales and landscaping businesses. The commute from home to work is going to be about a half-hour each day. “It’s a big step,” she said, “But, it’s going to be worth it, owning such a nice home.”
“I’ve had to keep my focus on making things better for my family,” she said. It’s an effort that is paying off. Except for her home, Taylor will be debt free in November of this year.
The children, staying with other family members during the move, did not know about the new place in Cameron that their mom had managed to acquire. Taylor said, “They would be returning to their new home on my little girl’s birthday.”
As the dedication got underway, District 4 Choctaw Singers performed traditional hymns in the Choctaw language and officials were introduced, including municipal and Le Flore County officials, the Choctaw Nation Tribal Council and members of the Housing Authority of the Choctaw Nation. Choctaw elders mingled with townspeople of all ages who were in attendance.
“This is what it’s all about,” said Chief Batton, “Helping our Choctaw families.”
The Cameron houses are located on Barnes and Ward streets. The addition features 10 houses: one is a four bedroom, two baths and nine are three bedrooms, two baths, ranging from 1,422 to 1,553 square feet. All have two-car garages and sodded lawns. The all-electric residences come equipped with new appliances, central heat-and-air, and safety features. Each district of the Choctaw Nation is slated to receive 10 LEAP houses this year.
The stated mission of the new LEAP program is “to build strong families and vibrant neighborhoods through quality affordable housing and strengthened financial stability for those we serve.” Families with credit issues are assisted to become mortgage ready and lender qualified over time by receiving credit counseling services.
Director of the LEAP program is Mandi Young, who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-235-3087.