Manuela Romero came to the US from Mexico 21 years ago. “I came for vacation,” she laughs, “but I started working and helping my family.” Now, she says, she’d like to visit her mother and other family in Mexico City, “but if I save to go on the trip, what will they eat?”
“For me, the US is my home. I miss my family, but they move all the time. I like it here! I’m really happy.” Her adult daughter lives in Mexico with her 1 year old grandson. The last time they visited in person was 5 years ago, though they speak on the phone often.
She and her son, Bryan (7), have been somewhat nomadic for the last couple of years, renting rooms from acquaintances to save money. They’ve had to move quickly when the landlord’s needs have changed, and they never have much privacy. Manuela worries that Bryan can’t be as energetic as he would like. Manuela is looking forward to having a space that’s theirs.
Though her home life has been mobile, Manuela has been working at Gaska Tape as a machine operator for 9 years. A co-worker and Habitat home-owner, Mary McDaniels, encouraged her to go. “She almost kicked me,” Manuela laughs. “She said, ‘You don’t lose nothing—go!’”
Manuela’s face is well-known at Habitat. She completed many of her Sweat Equity hours in the ReStore and helping around the office, along with working on others’ homes. Manuela says being accepted into the Habitat program “is like a dream—something that never can happen to me!”
The Romero home is being built by a generous sponsorship from Lake City Bank. Manuela and Bryan hope to move into their new home on Elizabeth St this summer.