Mother gives children what she never had

On Monday, Aug. 28, Mikalaha Davis-McNair received the keys to her new Habitat for Humanity home, sponsored by Pinellas Community Partnerships.


ST. PETERSBURG — Last Monday, when most people were preparing for Hurricane Idalia, Mikalaha Davis-McNair was being handed the keys to her new Habitat for Humanity home by Mayor Ken Welch at the 838th home dedication ceremony in Pinellas and West Pasco Counties.

Doug Beavis, representing Upper Tampa Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce and Kids Pedal Power, gifted Xylin and Xamir two brand-new bikes.

Davis-McNair entered the program last October, and within those 10 months, she completed 367 sweat equity hours, where she helped build her house as well as others. She also completed 32 homebuyer education classes where she was taught everything she needed to know about owning a home, such as budgeting and finance, maintenance and repair, fire and safety tips, how to be a good neighbor and how to become involved in her community.

“I remember getting my first apartment at age 19, and here I am today, 28 years old, owning my own home,” said Davis-McNair. “It has always been a dream of mine, but Habitat for Humanity helped me turn that dream into reality, and for that, I’m forever grateful.”

Davis-McNair, an advanced medical support assistant at Bay Pines VA Hospital, didn’t want her two boys Xylin, 7, and Xamir, 4, to grow up the way she had to. Since the age of 16, she has been on her own.

Casandra Jackson and Regina Parks, representing the Phyllis Wheatley Rise to Read Campaign, gifted the Davis-McNair family a new set of books to go on their custom-built bookshelves in each child’s room.

Between the ages of 18 and 23, she and her oldest son moved around a lot, including when they had to sleep on an air mattress or pallets on someone’s floor. For the past four years, the family of three has been living in a small two-bedroom apartment, which was difficult with two growing boys.

“My goal is to give my children a better life than I had. I never want them to endure what I did throughout life,” Davis-McNair explained. “Out of 28 years, no place I’ve ever lived has felt like home. I’m ready to be able to say I helped my children achieve that feeling. Just knowing I would be able to give them something I’ve never had makes my heart smile.”

And Davis-McNair was all smiles on Aug. 28 when Mayor Welch handed her the keys to her new home.

“Well, life is a journey, and you’ve worked hard for this, and you’ve got a lot of folks that support you,” said Welch. “God has blessed you with this new home. It’s my honor to present you with the keys to your house.”

Davis-McNair thanked God for the village He provided her with and her mother, who isn’t here physically, but for “instilling the virtue of hard work, dedication, and determination in me. If not for that, I would not be standing here today,” she expressed.

Left, Mayor Ken Welch, Mikalaha Davis-McNair, Council Vice Chair Deborah Figgs-Sanders, Councilman Ed Montanari; in front, Xamir and Xylin

Like Davis-McNair, those who go through the Habitat program purchase their homes with a zero-interest mortgage, which will guarantee the affordability of their homes for the duration of the home loan.

At all the home dedication ceremonies, the homeowner is presented with a Bible, symbolic of having all of life’s answers found between its two covers, and a hammer representing the sweat equity hours that went into building a Habitat for Humanity home.

With each home dedication, a prayer is said to bless the homeowner and their new house. Kevin Dorsey from the Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco Counties team blessed Mikalaha Davis-McNair’s home.

To learn more about how to apply or refer a friend to the Habitat program, please visit the Apply Page at

Welcome home Mikalaha, Xylin, and Xamir!

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