Nail Gun Betty

Home Progress Video:

Growing up in Vietnam, Betty remembers a rain storm that created pools of mud on the floor of her home constructed of packed dirt and straw. She tried to sleep that night while standing up, clinging to her mom for comfort. This childhood memory is her motivation to provide her autistic son a safe home where he feels comfort.


Home Dedication Photos

Home Closing Photos


When Betty’s son was diagnosed with autism, her mother moved in to help care for him so she could continue to work. For the past six years, they have lived in the same 2-bedroom apartment where Betty shares a bedroom with her son and sleeps in a bunk bed. While she is thankful for the help, their apartment is cramped.

As he gets older, this arrangement becomes more arduous when his struggles with noise and frequent episodes can only be comforted alone, in a quiet setting. Their deteriorating neighborhood makes each episode more difficult to endure.

Her commitment to provide a better living environment for her son is what drew her to attend a homeowner orientation session at Habitat Sarasota. In the beginning, her siblings discouraged her to own a home due to the maintenance expense. As her rent continued to climb, and she learned more about the required homeownership classes, she became confident that she could succeed in the program and eventually become a homeowner.

She discovered her monthly mortgage payment to Habitat Sarasota would cost $600 which included homeowner’s insurance and property taxes. This was $200 less than she was paying in rent! Not only would owning a Habitat Sarasota home benefit her financial future, it would also provide security and comfort to her son. With three bedrooms and more space in a quiet neighborhood, Betty would be able to redirect her son’s behavior and help with his therapy.

“If you have a dream, find ways to motivate yourself to make it happen.” - Betty

Betty’s face lights up as she describes learning that she qualified for Habitat’s homeownership program, “I felt like I hit the lotto!” Betty was eager to begin volunteering toward her sweat equity requirement. Her determination and work ethic is an asset at every job site, Habitat volunteers have nicknamed her “Nail Gun Betty” and recruiting her as a Specialist on the build sites.

Betty says “the more I work and the more I learn, the more I value and treasure the opportunity.” After accumulating 1,000 sweat equity hours (more than triple the number required) move-in day has arrived! Her advice to others who want to pursue the dream of owning a home? “If you have a dream, find ways to motivate yourself to make it happen.”

Habitat Sarasota is grateful for the dedicated support from more than 200 volunteers whom provided 4,400 hours to build Betty’s house. Organized volunteer groups that participated in the construction were New College of Florida, Sarasota Young Professionals, Sir Speedy Sarasota, Target, Wells Fargo and xByte Technologies.

Betty’s new home construction was made possible from a generous gift from the Pezzillo family and additional funding for the washer, dryer and interior blinds provided by Designing Daughters of Sarasota.