On September 19th, 2005, Rick Volker was driving home after a night out with friends. Approaching the intersection at West Catawba, Rick accelerated to make the yellow light. As he sped up, his car’s front right tire veered off the road. A drop off between the pavement and the side of the road caught the tire. Meanwhile, the car continued to move forward, flipping once before hitting a telephone pole. When EMTs arrived at the scene, they presumed that Rick, trapped in the driver’s seat, was dead. However, in cutting Rick out of the car, they discovered a slight pulse, and Rick was rushed to Carolinas Medical Center in downtown Charlotte. He remained there in a coma for four months before being transferred to a nearby nursing home. While the medical staff thought Rick’s chances of waking up were slim to none, his mom continued to visit him daily—to talk with him, to laugh with him, and to shave his beard. It was this scene to which Rick woke up, his mom there beside him, shaving his beard.
Almost twelve years later, Rick sits across from his wife, Christa, in their home in Davidson. Rick’s good-natured smile and Christa’s bubbling laugh create a warm atmosphere, as their dog, Star, runs around excitedly. In a few months, they will mark their one-year anniversary as homeowners—an anniversary that is cause for celebration as neither Rick nor Christa thought they would ever own a home.
When Rick awoke from his coma, he had traumatic brain injuries, paralysis on his right side, and a weakened short term memory. While he faced a long road to recovery, Rick was determined to move forward with his life. He moved in with his mom while undergoing physical therapy, and as he regained his independence, his first goal was to get a job. After finding a position at Rite Aid, Rick moved onto his next goal: living on his own. He soon found an apartment in Huntersville. In his spare time, Rick also began sharing the story of his accident by giving speeches at local schools.
It was during one of these speeches at the Carolinas College of Health Sciences that Rick first learned of the Davidson Housing Coalition. Before walking on stage, he had been chatting with a woman about how he was looking for a new place to live, somewhere with a greater sense of community. After his speech, the woman came running up to him with information about DHC, and the new apartments being built on Mock Circle. In 2012, Rick became the first resident of the newly built Unit 114 at Creekside Corner.
Shortly after moving to Creekside Corner, Rick met Christa. They began dating, and were engaged within six months. They decided to move in together, but stayed at Creekside Corner, moving from a one-bedroom to a two-bedroom unit. The couple was married in 2015.
Before meeting Rick, Christa had been renting a house in Mooresville with a friend, and working at Carolinas Healthcare. She thought she would only live in the house for six months, but had been living there for almost four years. Moving into an apartment with Rick felt comfortable, but the prospect of buying a home? “I never thought I would ever own a house, you know?” Christa said when asked. “We had our own apartment, and I had been living in apartments, but owning a house was something I never ever thought would be possible.”
In 2016, Rick and Christa began meeting with Gail, DHC’s Financial Literacy Counselor, to review their finances. Christa and Gail met one on one for almost a year, working to improve Christa’s credit and to refinance her student debt. With Christa’s credit improving, Rick and Christa met with Gail again as a couple to explore their housing options. With Rick working in Huntersville and Christa working in Davidson, they hoped to stay in the area. However, although Rick and Christa both work full-time, they didn’t think that they earned enough to afford a home. “It was Gail who brought to our attention that we could afford a house,” said Rick. The Volkers were eligible both for the Town of Davidson’s Affordable Housing program and for the Town’s Down Payment Assistance program. When a home became available through DHC’s land-lease program in April 2017, Rick and Christa felt ready to take the leap.
The Volkers closed on their new home in August 2017. While the move down the street was easy, the first year of homeownership has come with its own set of challenges. The couple has learned how to keep their pipes from freezing in the winter, and who to call when water mysteriously pools in the kitchen. However, the challenges have also come with rewards. Rick and Christa beautifully renovated their kitchen space, putting in new counters and cabinets. They also recently purchased a patio table and chairs as Rick has plans to finish their back porch. They look forward to becoming more involved in the community through volunteer work. Above all, they are excited to continue making their house a home as the Volkers plan to stay here as long as possible.