CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – A 71-year-old grandmother has fulfilled her American Dream by owning her very first home.

Esther Pardo immigrated to the Charlotte area from a mountain town in Colombia 23 years ago. She had only $100 in her pocket and four teenage children.

“My motivation to come here was giving to my kids a better life,” said Pardo. “I started having two or three jobs at the same time, sleeping for a couple hours a day.”

She learned to speak English while working as a grocery bagger at BI-LO, taking in as much of her new country as possible.

“When [the cashier] says ‘hello,’ I say ‘hello.’ And she says, ‘plastic or paper,’ and I say, ‘plastic or paper.’ One day she says, ‘are you copying me?’ and I said ‘yes,'” laughed Pardo.

More than two decades after moving to the US, Pardo still hasn’t given up on her dream of giving her family the best possible life. But on Thursday, she finally got something for herself.

“[She] patiently waited for 23 years to have her own home, and it paid off,” said Pardo’s oldest daughter Maria Ottinger.

The home, situated near downtown Davidson, is unique for more reasons than being Pardo’s first.

Initially built in 1916, it was moved to its current location to avoid demolition while constructing a new roundabout. It was rebuilt by the hands of Habitat for Humanity volunteers.

“She has given so much of her life to others, and especially to her children, to see us succeed in everything in life,” said Ottinger. “Finally, she has something for her.”

At the dedication of her new, two-bedroom home, Pardo said she was grateful to the volunteers who made her dream possible and to Americans for opening doors for her.

“This is the country that adopted me and my family, the country who received me with open arms,” she said.