Habitat for Humanity plans homes for three families by Christmas
Daniel and Ana Valdez, along with four of their five children, stand in the spot where their new Habitat for Humanity home will be built. Currently, the seven-member family lives in a three-bedroom apartment, where overcrowding is a serious issue. / Cara Pallone | Appeal Tribune
SILVERTON APPEAL (June 7, 2011) –
Every emotion — from smiling to crying to smiling again — comes into play when a family is handed the key to a new Habitat for Humanity home.
Jerry Ambris, executive director of North Willamette Valley Habitat for Humanity, described the reactions he’s witnessed over the past two years in his position.
“Something as simple as a key means independence. It means worth; it means being a part of this community, and when you hand it over, you transfer that power to the family,” Ambris said. “Who would have thought a key could mean so much?”
The goal is that by Christmas 2011, three families will be handed keys to three new homes in Silverton.
But in the months leading up to that time, they have their work cut out for them.
Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit housing developer dedicated to eradicating substandard housing from communities. Qualified, low-income buyers work up to 500 hours helping build their home.
“We understand the fear of buying a home in this economy, but Habitat takes that fear out of the equation,” Ambris said.
Homeowners buy the home at cost — on a no-interest, no-profit mortgage — at a monthly payment of less than 30 percent of their gross monthly income.
For some families that cannot receive a conventional loan, it’s a dream come true, he said.
The three new homes that will spring up on Littlebit Court in Silverton in the coming months will bring the total number of NWV Habitat homes to 37.
Two of the new Silverton homes are spoken for, but Habitat is seeking a third family to occupy the last home.
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A new beginning
Parents: Daniel and Ana Valdez
Children: Daniel, Aminadab, Adai, Benjamin, Caleb
Sponsor: Huddart Family Foundation
Right now, it’s only a mound of dirt, dug out like a maze and filled with construction tools and sheets of wood.
But by this time next year, it will be a four-bedroom, two-bathroom home with a yard and plenty of room for the seven-member Valdez family.
It will be a dream come true, said Daniel, who has worked for Xerox for the past 10 or so years. His wife, Ana, is a stay-at-home mom. The couple moved to Canby 19 years ago and currently they live in a three-bedroom apartment, where their daughter, Adai, 12, shares a room with her two younger brothers. The couple’s two oldest sons also share a room.
Caleb, 7, the family’s youngest member, is autistic. Sometimes, when he has outbursts, he bangs on the walls, screams and runs through the apartment.
Caleb’s illness has been difficult for the family, but Daniel said it’s made them closer.
“There’s more love within our family,” he said. “We work united as a team to make sure all his needs are met.”
However, the tantrums have put a strain on the family’s relationship with neighbors, and doctors have told Daniel and Ana that it would best for Caleb’s development if he had more space.
Soon, he will have just that. The house in which the Valdez family will live calls for a backyard, and it sits on the end of a cul-de-sac, where Caleb will be able to play with other neighborhood children.
While space will be the greatest bonus for Caleb, Adai is thrilled that she’ll finally have her own room, which she already has decorated in her mind.
Benjamin, 8, is pushing for a trampoline and Ana has her own slate of visions for the new home, from the color of the curtains to the arrangement of the living room.
“It’s a new beginning,” Daniel said.
Eduardo Morales, Marisol Paz and daughter Maria Vargas, 17, stand in the space where their new Habitat for Humanity home will be built. Not pictured are the couple’s four other children. The seven-member family currently lives in a three-bedroom apartment in Mt. Angel.
Parents: Marisol Paz and Eduardo Morales
Children: Maria, Berenice, Luis, Eveline, Yaretzi
Sponsor: Thrivent Financial for Lutherans
Eduardo Morales is looking forward to planting a garden.
Marisol Paz will finally have her dream space: four bedrooms, a garage and two bathrooms, to be exact.
But what thrills the couple the most is having a place to call their own.
“It excites me to know I’m investing my money in something that’s going to be here forever,” Paz said.
The two, along with their five children, who range in age from 4 to 17, currently live in a three-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment in Mt. Angel, where they have resided for the past eight years.
The apartment is always overcrowded; they share rooms and line up to use the bathroom, Paz said.
She and Morales each work as many as five seasonal agricultural farm jobs per year, but they also find time to volunteer at their church.
Maria Vargas, the oldest child, translated for her parents on a recent weekday as they stood near a plot of land on Littlebit Court in Silverton, where the family soon will have a much bigger space to call home.
Vargas will be attending college in the fall on a number of scholarships and is the first member of her family to pursue higher education.
Fittingly, the John F. Kennedy High School senior is the president of her school’s Habitat Club. Members help build homes and organize an annual fundraiser banquet.
This time around, her own family will be on the receiving end.
“It’s exciting. We never thought we would have a home like this,” she said. “A home where we all fit.”
How to help
North Willamette Valley Habitat for Humanity is holding its first Build-a-Thon.
Volunteers are encouraged to invite family and friends to sponsor their volunteer hours by making donations to Habitat for Humanity.
The Build-a-Thon will take place at the construction site, Littlebit Court within the Pioneer Subdivision, 8:45 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, June 17-25.
There is a $25 registration fee. Scholarships are available.
Volunteers will help build while sponsors donate through a personal fundraising webpage based on hours worked.
The goal is to raise $25,000. Donations currently are at the halfway mark.
Learn how to register or donate by going to http://buildathon.nwvhabitat.org or call (503) 845-2434.
Those who don’t want to participate in the Build-a-Thon are welcome to help build in the months following the event.
— Cara Pallone