Habitat for Humanity breaks ground on new house





For Veronica Jimenez, the extra space her family will have in its new home is what she could only describe as a blessing.

She and her husband, Luis Jimenez, are the latest recipients of a Habitat for Humanity home, located at 502 N. Fifth St. Groundbreaking took place Sunday afternoon as the Jimenez family, including their seven young sons, were on hand to help break ground.

"It's a great opportunity," Veronica Jimenez said. "They're very excited to have their own rooms. The big ones want their own rooms, so I think they're going to get it."

Bev Miller, president of Habitat for Humanity, said that it will take about a year to build the home. She described to the Jimenez boys what the finished product will be like.

"You young boys, this is going to be where your house is. Your backyard will be here, you'll have a garden, a big porch on the front and that wonderful garage," she told the boys, as one of them interjected that he'd like a basketball hoop.

The Jimenez family currently lives in a small, three-bedroom double wide mobile home on Anderson Road.

"The trailer has little, little closets, and they're narrow and it's an old, old double wide with short ceilings, so having a brand new home with lots of space is a great opportunity for my kids to grow up here," Veronica Jimenez said.

"This one's going to be four to five bedrooms with a full basement, and it's a really nice area," Luis Jimenez said.

Miller said that the house, located across from Sunnyland Bed and Breakfast, will be a 1,200-square-foot, bungalow-style home.

"We're going to try to keep it kind of similar to what the neighborhood is," she said,

She said that a common misconception is that Habitat for Humanity homes are given to families for free, but that is not the case.

"After the house is built, we determine what cost we have in it, including the lot, and then Habitat for Humanity owns the house. We write a 30-year mortgage to them (the families) and they pay for the house, but the mortgage is interest-free. It's a 30-year, interest-free mortgage," she said.

Families who apply for the homes also are required to put 400 hours of labor into other Habitat for Humanity homes, as well as their own.

"Before we started their house, they had to put in 100 hours on somebody else's house," Miller said, adding that the additional 300 hours will be put into their own home.

In addition, members from the community volunteer to provide the free labor, which keeps the costs much lower.

"We're always needing volunteers. That's a great thing to do, too. It gives people a fun way to help others. They learn construction work," Miller said. "People who want to volunteer on this one can just go to the house at 502 N. Fifth, just show up on Saturdays."

During the groundbreaking Sunday, Sisters Janice Thome and Roserita Weber of the Dominican Ministry of Presence were on hand, as well as board members of Habitat for Humanity.

Sister Weber said a blessing over the ground on which the home will be built and quoted scripture.

"When Millard and Linda Fuller began Habitat for Humanity in 1976, they envisioned it as a Christian group that would strive to build homes for those who would not otherwise have homes. And that concept brings to mind for me this scripture, found in Psalm 127:1, 'unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build,'" Weber said.

The next planned recipients of a Habitat for Humanity home, Jose Sanchez, Maria Velasquez and their three children, also were on hand.

"That second family, he (Jose Sanchez) has already come and is working on this house," Miller said, describing the process as a ripple effect.

Velasquez laughed as she said they hope to help get the Jimenez home built really fast, so work can begin on theirs, but she added that she is thankful for the chance to have a new home.

"It's a satisfaction, it's a necessity, but more than that, it's something special. It's a privilege to have a house in this country," she said.

Miller said that their home will be located on 11th Street and that construction will begin on it as soon as the Jimenez' home is completed.

"We only build one at a time. We would like to get started on it sooner because their living conditions are really bad," she said, adding that because Habitat for Humanity projects depend so much on volunteer work, it is difficult to get homes built as quickly as they would like.

"They're willing to wait, though. They're thrilled to be a Habitat family," Miller said.

To volunteer labor, either show up at 502 N. Fifth St. on Saturdays or call Bev Miller at 275-1187 or Habitat for Humanity Volunteer Coordinator Lana Christianson at 275-1169.

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