The 25-year-old Habitat for Humanity of Greater Stark & Carroll Counties — the largest affiliate in the state — will be building its 425th no-interest-loan house next year.
At the celebration, it was announced that the house will be dedicated in honor of Dr. Ben Carson’s mother, Sonya Carson, a single mother who raised two high-achieving sons.
“We wanted to honor that,” said Beth Lechner, executive director of the local Habitat affiliate.
Sonya Carson — a native of rural Tennessee and one of 24 children — was married at 13. In Detroit the young mother of two discovered that her minister husband was a bigamist. Even though she had only a third-grade education, she had an independent spirit that told her the journey wouldn’t be easy, but that she would find a way to make it on her own with her two sons.
She worked two or three jobs at a time, as a domestic. “She never adopted a victim’s mentality,” Ben Carson said. “She never felt sorry for herself or for us either. That meant she wouldn’t accept our excuses either. When that happens you start looking for solutions.”
Sonya Carson noticed in the homes where she worked, the children read a lot. So, she took a page out of their playbooks, went back home, turned off the TV and insisted that her boys not only read two books a week, but also submit book reports to her. They didn’t know until much later that she couldn’t read.
Ben’s grades vastly improved and so did his ability to dream. Hence the title of one of his books: Think Big.
By the way, Sonya Carson later learned to read, graduated from high school and college, and received an honorary Ph.D. So now she’s Dr. Carson too!
— Jewell Cardwell