Jasmina Drijevic Strikic knew she wanted to come to America ever since she received her first pair of American rollerblades as a gift.
Being in America, under other circumstances, would have been a dream for her.
But what she went through to get here was more like a nightmare.
Her home country, Bosnia, was destroyed by war in the early ’90s.
“We went from having everything to losing everything,” Jasmina said. “Overnight, we had to wonder where we would get food, clean water and somewhere to sleep.”
She fled to a Croatian refugee camp and there she eventually met her husband, Davor Strikic.
Today, the couple lives in Fort Collins and are American citizens.
And soon, thanks to CSU Greeks, they will have a home.
Greek Life, along with Habitat for Humanity, is building a home for the couple and their 8-year-old daughter, Aida.
“This is a hand up for the Strikic family,” said Ryan Hodack, a junior construction management major who is the community service chair for the Interfraternity Council and project director of the fundraiser for CSU Greeks and Fort Collins Habitat for Humanity. “Not a hand out.”
The application process was tough and the Strikic family will have to earn its home. In addition to meeting income and need-based requirements, they must also put in 500 “sweat equity hours” as part of the deal.
This means they have to donate their free time to the Habitat for Humanity store, go to meetings or contribute to other homes before they can move into their home, likely in the spring of 2007.
Hodack began volunteering by doing community service trips in Mexico and Illinois. He was also an organizer for CSUnity and Cans Around the Oval.
Greeks are raising money for the Strikics and all proceeds will go toward building costs. Greeks, Habitat for Humanity volunteers and the Strikic family will build the house, which will be in eastern Fort Collins.
Hodack said they’re trying to raise $110,000 for the home, which he called the biggest Greek project in terms of man-hours spent.
The family found out about Habitat for Humanity through a family that lived in the apartment complex they now manage.
“Every so often we would see the family grab tools, and when we finally asked what they were doing they just said ‘we’re building our house,'” Jasmina said.
Dan Ferguson, the Strikics’ Habitat for Humanity family advocate, said the Strikics were chosen because “they are very disciplined with their money.”
“We saved up the money for our down payment and put it aside,” Jasmina said. “We didn’t need to touch it.”
Megan Vogel, a junior technical journalism major, is the public relations director for this project, and said she is participating in this project because of the suffering the Strikics have gone through.
“They are so excited,” she said. “They have worked so hard and they deserve it.”
The journey has been a long one for the family. Jasmina’s mother had fled to America before the couple, and she helped them immigrate here. Jasmina and Davor joined her in Boulder before moving to Fort Collins.
“Fort Collins and CSU are so much better than Boulder,” Jasmina said. “Not to mention much cheaper.”
And soon, in Fort Collins, the family will live their American dream of owning their own home, thanks to CSU Greeks and community support.
And if Aida has her mother’s passion for rollerblades, she may be gliding down her very own American neighborhood street very soon.
Staff writer Nikki Cristello can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Habitat for Humanity Winter Benefit Ball
Who: The CSU community
When: Nov. 30, 9 p.m. to midnight
Where: Lory Student Center Main Ballroom
Cost: $10 presale, $13 at door. Tickets sold outside of LSC bookstore. All proceeds benefit Habitat for Humanity.