Lida Williams is now a grandmother and retired school teacher living in Valparaiso. Originally, born in Detroit Michigan, she was very young she and her family moved to Hamilton, Ohio and later, moved to Northwest Indiana in 1962 where she raised her two children.
She had always been a strong independent woman who made sure to take care of her family. She was an elementary teacher for over 30 years, and after retiring she became an adjunct professor at Purdue University for another nine years.
When she had moved to Northwest Indiana she decided to become an elementary school teacher so that she and her two children would have the same time off together.
“Little did I realize how much time teachers spend outside the classroom!” she exclaimed.
As a single mom, she put herself through college at Indiana University in Bloomington and finished her degree at IUN in Gary. She then continued to get her Master’s degree at Purdue Calumet in Hammond. She managed her classes all while working and putting her own children through school. It was her love for her children and desire to provide them with the best opportunities life had to offer.
Williams, being a successful single mother, has always held a torch for women in need. She got involved in Habitat for Humanity more than 20 years ago. When she started with the organization, she already had experience working and helping build houses, and over the years, she had gotten more involved with the Family Committee, being a board member, and being the Treasurer for the board.
“The Family Committee really does a lot of things. We try to get the information out to the community about what we are, and how to apply. Then we view the applications and applicants to determine that they actually fit the qualifications. We then work with the families step-by-step through the process, helping them understand home ownership,” she said.
The families that go through Habitat for Humanity go through much of the same processes that regular home buyers do and then some. “Our partner family works with us to build their homes. We call the partner families because we’re working together to help them achieve this goal. These families put in the sweat to help build their house and at the end of the process they go through a closing just like anybody else that is purchasing real-estate,” Williams said. “They are purchasing their house; it is not a giveaway. A lot of people think that we build houses and give them away but we don’t, the family is purchasing their home and we determine during the application process what is affordable for that family.”
Williams has been driven to help at Habitat for Humanity for so many years. She explained that being a single mother, and understanding the struggle that families must go through she felt that she could connect with the families that go through the program.
“Initially I thought that it was a nice thing to do, and I worked on the physical work in that first house. Of course, 20 years ago, I was a lot younger then, and I thought to work on a Habitat house was more fun than going to a gym! I like Habitat because it is a hand up, not a handout, and any of us could find ourselves in a situation where we need a hand up. For the most part, many of our partners are single mothers and I can relate to that because that’s what my life was.”
Williams is also an active member of the AAUW, American Association of University Women. She has been the treasurer there in the past and is now assisting the current treasurer. “The focus of AAUW is girls and women’s issues and the national side also does a lot of research and that’s something that is important to me. Before I graduated with my degree I worked in a warehouse, and the men were paid more than I was because they were men. Men are supposed to be supporting a family, well what did they think a single mother was doing?” she said.
Williams loves living here in Northwest Indiana. Although she was not born and raised here she has spent much of her life here. She has watched the community grow and has herself grown into it.
Williams also enjoys painting and designing and crafting jewelry in her free time.
“I have a really close group of friends. I have friends I can go to, to get help if I need it and I have friends here that are jewelers if I need help with the jewelry I’m working on. You can’t find that in a new community. I’ve spent over half my life here, you know, it’s hard to leave.”