House #15: It was a blessing

House #15: Josh and Roxanne Perez

House #15: Josh and Roxanne Perez

June 2020–Five years after Josh and Roxanne Perez and their three children moved into their new Habitat home, how do they like it?

“I love it,” Josh said. “The kids love it. We have our own space, compared to what we were living in. It was a blessing.”

Josh works as Head Chef at K-Bobs, while Roxanne works the night shift at James Avery manufacturing facility in Comfort.

Before learning they were eligible for House #15 built by Habitat for Humanity of Greater Fredericksburg, the couple were living in a trailer house. While they were grateful to have a place, after a year it started having problems. It got so back they had to go with out A/C due to electrical issues. They didn’t know what to do.

Then Josh saw a notice for applying for a Habitat home at the laundromat. They decided to try, going to a meeting three nights later, filling out the paperwork, and sending it off. Josh remembers being with his family at the river when he got the call.

“They said, you got the house! I said, what house? When they told us, we were like, oh, man. It was great and it has been great!”

The biggest change is that everything works.

“It made a big difference in all of our lives,” said Josh, who is Head Chef at K-Bobs, where he has worked for 10 years. “I was always having to come home and fix something. I looked for extra work on the side to be able to fix an issue. So this is a lot easier for me.”

His reaction is shared by the family.

“The kids love it because they have their own space. The house is nice and big, we live by a creek, and they have their own place to play.”

He has become an evangelist, telling others about the good works of Habitat. In fact their most recent house will soon be owned by Josh’s sister and brother-in-law.

“It is a great thing. It was a blessing.”

House #17: A different story; a different life

House #17: David & Mariana Montoya

House #17: David & Mariana Montoya

“It’s a blessing.”

Those are the words David Montoya said over and over when asked how being in a new home changed his life. David, his wife Mariana, and their 4-year-old daughter have lived in House #17 for a year and a half.

Before moving in, the Montoyas lived in a small family rental. Owning versus renting has made positive impact on their life.

“There are a lot of good things about it,” David said. “The payments we make are accessible. You don’t have to deal with paying rent, or living with other people. We went through that. Now that we own our own house it’s a different story; it’s a different life.”

David has worked with a large retailer since 2015, and Mariana cleans houses for select clients.

“The people were very kind to us. It has been a blessing for us to own this house.”

David hopes the blessing his family has experienced will spread to others helping Habitat for Humanity of Greater Fredericksburg.

“I would encourage people to donate and help the organization,” he said. “They are going to see the faces of the people when they get a house, it is a huge thing–you are happy forever. Because it is also a blessing for them because they are going to be helping others.”

Good to have your own home

Jose and Rose Sanchez family, House #16

House #16, Jose and Rose Sanchez

June 2020–Even three years after moving into their new Habitat home, it still feels new to Jose and Rose Sanchez. Now when they get off work, they both go home to a house they own. This is a big change–prior to getting on Habitat for Humanity of Greater Fredericksburg’s list, the family rented a two-bedroom, one-bath apartment.

“It is really good to have your own home,” said Jose Sanchez, who moved into House#16 with his wife, Rose, and their three kids. “It’s been three years and it still feels like our new home. Every day we can’t believe we have a home for ourselves and our kids. The kids were so excited to be able to have a back yard to play in. It changed our lives completely.”

Josh has been a machinist at Keger Industries for five years; Rose has worked as a Medical Assistant at Fredericksburg Clinic for 15 years.

Josh is especially grateful for the work done by volunteers, many who don’t even live in the state, in putting their home up.

“It’s a true blessing. The Care-A-Vanners were awesome. We were able to work with them to complete our hours. To be able to be a part of that was an awesome journey. They are amazing people doing an amazing job. They have helped so many families.”

Prospective Habitat homeowners are required to contribute 300 hours of work, so Josh and Rose were on the site on weekends, elbow to elbow with volunteers. So he is eager to dispel the myths about what it takes to get into a home.

“We did a lot of physical work. It’s not free. I hate when people say that. We worked hard for this, and we still work hard for what we have.

Josh emphasizes that anyone can take advantage of this opportunity. He appreciates the people and businesses that make it possible.

“The people that support Habitat are wonderful people. We wish more people were able to donate to Habitat.”

The Sanchez family is one of four Habitat homeowners in their neighborhood.

“This is a good community. Everybody is so blessed and it’s a blessing for Habitat. We appreciate them so much.”

Having a house changed our lives

The Castaneda family on the steps of their new home, 2012.

House #14, Christopher and Yecenia Castaneda

June 2020–In 2012, Christopher Castaneda had just gotten out of school after earning his Associate’s degree in Diesel Mechanics at Texas State Technical College. He was living in a small, one-bedroom house with his wife, Yecenia, and three children, when he got the call from Habitat for Humanity of Greater Fredericksburg.

“Having a house changed our lives,” said Castaneda. “It gave us a roof over our heads. My daughters were my biggest concern. I wanted more space for them to grow up in.”

Castaneda now works for Pike Electric as a lineman, commuting to Austin daily. Yecenia just paused her job as a dental assistant in order to be at home with the couple’s newborn.

While living in their own home is a dream, Castaneda still needs to dispel misconceptions he hears from family and friends.

“People think we got a free house,” Castaneda said. “I had to explain that Habitat is an organization that helps families get a foot on the ground, or who are in a bad situation. We still have to pay the mortgage!”

And the taxes and insurance and maintenance. And any improvements, such as converting the “big dirt pit” into a grassy lawn complete with privacy fence for his children (“it’s pretty now”).

“My wife and I have been together for 16 years, ever since high school. We are still together, and I am very grateful. We have been up and down like all other families, but it helped us quite a bit to get this house. It made our family a whole unit, instead of worrying about a roof over our heads.”

They are both grateful for the support they received from the entire community.

“The people that did the building–I appreciate all the volunteer work, and the loving care that they put into the house. I wish they got more appreciation, because they busted their butts!”

It looks like the building may not be completed. With the arrival of their fourth child, the Castanedas are looking at converting closet space into another bedroom.

“We’re running out of space!”