Home on the horizon
By SCOTT AUST
An exuberant Isaac Jimenez wrapped his arms around friends and family Saturday morning, his excitement growing by the minute as he watched the walls of his family's new home begin to take shape on Fifth Street in Garden City.
"It's awesome," the 10-year-old fifth-grader at Bernadine Sitts Intermediate Center said. "We'll get our own bedrooms."
More than 40 volunteers came to help work on what will be the new family home for the Veronica and Luis Jimenez family and their seven sons, Luis, Jr., Isaac, Ismael, Ezequiel, Israel, Uriel and Emanuel, who range in age from 12 years old to 8 months.
The home also will be the seventh Habitat for Humanity home built in Garden City.
"We are overwhelmed with the volunteers we have today," Bev Miller, Garden City Habitat for Humanity, said. "We have more than expected. That's what Garden City's about. We have a wonderful community, and we are so excited with everybody who's here."
Shawna Deal, with the Finney County Young Professionals, said her organization tries to do something in the community every couple of months. Volunteering to help on Saturday was probably the group's biggest project since it formed in 2006.
"We try to get in and help whenever we can," she said. "It just feels good. It feels good to see the family over there, and to see everyone pitching in. We feel good about that."
The excitement carried over to Isaac, who told anyone who asked how much he is looking forward to having a room of his own. His mom, Veronica Jimenez, explained that Isaac and his older brother will get their own bedroom for the first time.
Currently, the family lives in a three-bedroom, double-wide mobile home.
"It's small with seven boys," she said. "We own our mobile home, but it's small and it needs a lot of work because it's a '68."
Jimenez said she knew about the Habitat for Humanity program because her parents also have a Habitat home in Garden City. The program includes an application process and criteria like income and good credit that applicants must meet to be considered. Those chosen also must invest 500 hours of sweat-equity into their new homes, meaning they have to help with the work on the house.
"We received a blessing," Jimenez said of being chosen to be a Habitat family.
Looking at all the volunteers busy at work pounding nails and putting up the walls of the new home, Jimenez said her family also feels blessed by all the support.
"We're very blessed with all these people doing this for us. It's unbelievable that so many people are willing to volunteer. It's overwhelming to me that they're willing to take time out of their lives to come do this for us," she said.
Ground was broken in December for the house, located across the street from Sunnyland Bed and Breakfast. When complete, the 1,200 square-feet, bungalow-style home will feature four to five bedrooms and a full basement.
After the house is built, Habitat for Humanity determines the cost, including the lot, and provides a 30-year interest-free mortgage to the family.
The lot also includes a pre-existing detached garage that will provide the Jimenez clan even more space for their growing family.
Veronica joked that she needs a room for herself — a Mom-cave — somewhere in the garage, where she can set up her sewing machine.
"I love the location," she said. "We'll have access to everything. Our bank is over there, the post office, the hospital. It's all nearby."
Lana Christensen, volunteer coordinator for Habitat for Humanity, estimated about 40 volunteers were on site Saturday morning, a day she said also was intended to honor the memory of Dave Sweley, the founder of Garden City's Habitat for Humanity who died March 14. Christensen said Garden City's Habitat for Humanity started 16 years ago, and the first house was built about 11 years ago.
Christensen said volunteers will continue working on the house every Saturday from about 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. until it's finished, a process that typically takes about a year. To volunteer labor, either show up at 502 N. Fifth St. on Saturdays or call Christensen at 275-1169.