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The McKinley Family

Growing up, Sayla McKinley was no stranger to difficult living situations. She grew up in Kansas City with divorced parents. Her dad had custody of Sayla and her sister and cared for them most of the time. “Our living situation was all
we knew. It didn’t seem hard at the time, but looking back, I see struggles for my father,” said Sayla.

As an adult and with children of her own, Sayla said Topeka Habitat for Humanity was a lifesaver. Before she was accepted into the program she and her 8 year old daughter and 13 year old stepson were renting a three-bedroom house that was in bad condition and had completely unaffordable utility expenses. They had to move in with friends to manage costs, a situation that was not ideal, but provided a temporary home. Something about Sayla’s living situation had to change, but she didn’t know what else she could do. A friend told her about Topeka Habitat for Humanity and encouraged her to apply.

Sayla said while the work wasn’t always easy, it was very rewarding to help build her house from the ground up. She painted much of her house and was able to choose all of the colors. Her kids got to choose and paint the colors in their rooms, and they enjoyed having the power to do that. She really appreciated all of the Topeka Habitat volunteers who worked side by side with her to create her beautiful home.

Sayla has worked for a major insurance provider for four years and recently moved into computer operations at the company. She is grateful for all the support from her employer and coworkers throughout her involvement with Topeka Habitat for Humanity.  


“Habitat has helped me get on my feet and start a new life as a homeowner,” said Sayla. “The advice I would give someone about to start the Habitat process is, be prepared to commit to doing a lot of work. You’re doing it for yourself and you won’t always be working on your home—I spent half of my sweat equity hours working in the Topeka Habitat ReStore."


"Just know that this process will change your life forever, put your heart into it.”

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