This has been another year of particular challenges and joys. As we navigate the challenges of finding land, recruiting volunteers, and raising funds, our hearts thrill at the knowledge that 10 more wonderful Elkhart County families own a safe, beautiful, energy-efficient home. Here are some high-lights from our amazing families of 2012.
The Mayorga Family—Seeking a better life
Eddie Mayorga and Zoila Galeano immigrated to the United States 20 years ago. “Maybe you’ve heard of what was going on in Guatemala during that time,” he says sadly. “It was very dangerous. It was a bloodbath.” They arrived, Eddie explains simply, seeking a better life.
They decided to make their permanent home in Elkhart County, where Eddie found his job at Goshen College 11 years ago. Zoila has worked at her job, at Benteler Automotive, for 7 years. Their youngest son, Nathan (12), is a student in the Goshen Community School system.
Eddie and Zoila, like many hard-working families, had never been able to buy a home. “It’s the American dream!” Eddie exclaims. Knowing he was weary of renting, Eddie’s supervisor at Goshen College sent him to a Habitat information meeting. Through the Habitat program, they have worked on other families’ homes, they are a favorite at Habitat’s ReStore, and have spent class time learning about finances and home ownership.
A partnership with Goshen College helped raise money and provide volunteers for the Mayorga’s home: T-shirts were sold, proceeds from the popular on-campus event ‘Kick-Off’ were donated to the cause, students and faculty swung hammers and raised walls for the brand new home. Eddie, Zoila, and Nathan envision many happy years of hosting barbeques and holidays in their new home on 12th St.
The Gipson Family—A journey to a better self
For Sally Gipson, Habitat is not only the beginning of a new stage of life, but also the culmination of many years of work and bettering herself. She graduated from Soup of Success, a program through Church Community Services designed to empower local women through education and job training. She took parenting classes with RETA (Reason Enough To Act). Just as her new home on Oakland Estates Avenue was finished, she completed her 2 year commitment to Elkhart’s Transitional Housing Program.
Sally enjoys her work with young children at Precious Memories, the daycare where she’s worked for 3 years. She hopes someday to run her own childcare operation, and she’s pursuing a degree in early childhood education from IUSB.
She and her daughter, Aaliyah (5), look forward to coming home after a long day and spending time together. They attend the Biblical Church of Acts, and get a lot of support from their church family. Sally makes sacrifices in her budget to send Aaliyah to a Christian Montessori school. Her next goal is to enroll her daughter in piano lessons.
Sally says, “I am a very blessed woman, because I will be the first one in my family to own a brand new home. I give the honor to God that made this happen.”
The Fisher Heaberlin Family—Moving forward to a fully accessible home
Three years ago, Arlene Fisher Heaberlin and her two children, Kaleb (15) and Breighton (10), moved in with Arlene’s parents. Arlene says, “I was unable to work at the time. I had some health issues that forced me to be on bed rest off and on for over 2 years. My parents…were a huge support to me and my kids.” Her growing kids didn’t have much space, so three years later, it was time to move on.
“After several surgeries and a long road to recovery, my health is back on track,” Arlene says. “My life is in full speed.” Good health has allowed her to work a job she enjoys, at Salon J in Goshen. “I absolutely love it here,” she says. “I love serving other people and making them feel good. I run the front desk and schedule appointments among other duties.” She says she especially enjoys working with bridal parties.
Arlene’s Habitat home on 6th St in Goshen is completely wheelchair accessible. Arlene uses her chair full-time, after a serious car accident 19 years ago. Her new Habitat home is built around her needs, featuring elements such as stepless entries, a wall oven, and a sink she can roll under. She met with Habitat’s Construction Manager to help design her home—one that is livable and comfortable.
Arlene says, “Being selected for Habitat has been such a blessing to me! Single parenting can be tough and financially tight. The Habitat family is a God send and making it possible for me to move forward in my life. Without them it would not have been possible for me to own my beautiful home!”