Home Would Provide Stability for Children After Tragic Loss
Charles and Leesa Haney are deeply committed to family.
Charles joined the Army at age 31 to provide stability for his wife and four children, who are now adults. More recently, the Haney’s took in a niece and two nephews after Leesa’s sister died.
Now, they want to ensure they can provide the children stability they have seldom known growing up impoverished. A mortgage-free home in Arizona provided by Meritage Homes would secure the family’s future.
The Haney’s found an eerie sense of déjà vu when touring the model home in the Sahuarita neighborhood where the new home will be built..
It was almost identical to a house they had hoped to rent in Florida, where they currently live. They were prepared to sign the lease, but the landlord decided to rent the home to someone in his family only a day before signing.
“I cried almost the whole time I was (in the Sahuarita model home) because this was that house,” Leesa said. “We were so excited to live there, and then it was ripped away from us. It would be redemption for us, and really an even better situation because we wouldn’t have rent.”
Reducing debt and building savings are key goals for the Haney’s, who found themselves actively parenting again after their children reached adulthood. They are legal guardians of the three children and working toward adopting them.
“We were supposed to be in a different place in our lives right now,” Leesa said. “We made sure our kids had what they needed, and now it was going to be just the two of us paying off our debts. We can still be doing what we set out to do, just with a few extra people in the house.”
Charles grew up in a military family, but he had different plans. He was exploring television and film production when he met Leesa in California. They relocated to West Virginia to be near her family, and Charles put his video production work on hold to work in retail sales.
After being laid off three times from retail sales jobs, Charles wanted stable work. He met with an Army recruiter in 2004 and headed off to basic training in 2005.
He began his Army career as a truck driver after his 6-foot-6 frame proved too big for driving a Humvee. He was deployed to Iraq, where he delivered supplies to Baghdad and Iskandariya.
Later, while working as a tow-truck driver and retrieving damaged vehicles at a forward operating base, a rocket attack blew him off his truck. He suffered a spinal injury and continued to serve.
Back in the United States, Charles was preparing for deployment to Afghanistan when his back went out for good, altering his plan of completing 30 years of military service before having to medically retire. He left the military in December of 2009 after almost five years.
Charles, who has a 100 percent disability rating with Veterans Affairs, later entered film school in Florida. Leesa works full time as an advocate for domestic violence victims and part time as an emergency services dispatcher.
With four grown children in their 20s, the Haney’s thought their child-rearing days were behind them. However, when Leesa’s sister died in a traffic accident in West Virginia, they didn’t hesitate to welcome her three children — Carol, 16, Thomas, 13, and Marcus, 12 – into their home.
Despite losing their mother and a difficult upbringing, the children are settling in nicely, Leesa said.
The children previously lived in a house that had no electricity or running water.
“They love it here with us,” Leesa said. “It hasn’t been perfect, but how can you expect it to be in these circumstances?”
They were thrilled when the home in Arizona became a possibility because one of their children lives nearby and Charles has family in the Phoenix and Tucson areas.
When the children learned about the home in Arizona, Marcus asked if he would have his own room—one without stains on the carpet.
“Of all the things to consider, that meant a lot to him,” Leesa said.
Both Leesa and Charles plan to find work in their chosen fields in Arizona. If video production jobs aren’t readily available for Charles, he will fall back on his 20 years of management experience.
As for what the home would mean to them as the children’s guardians, Charles put it this way:
“It would mean more stability for these children, knowing they have a permanent place to be even during and after college, a place to come back to. There would never be a question of having a permanent home.” – Charles Haney, Army veteran
After growing up in a single-parent household himself, Charles made it his mission to ensure he would be the husband and father his family did not have—to be an example to his sons and show his daughters how they should expect to be treated. That’s why they did not hesitate to travel to West Virginia and bring the children home with them, preventing a life in foster care for them.
“Making sure that my children, all seven of them, have the same opportunity at a better life than I was handed has always been my goal,” he said. “I will do whatever I can to give my new kids the change in their lives that will allow them to see a brighter future.”
The family expressed their gratitude to Meritage and Operation Homefront for considering them and look forward to continuing to help others once they are more financially secure.
“Different eras of military personnel have not always been seen in a positive light when it comes to the community being on their side,” Leesa said, “so it’s so beautiful that the builders are on the side of the military.”