There is a new welcome mat in people were turning her away. front of an old house in At the urging of her cousin, south Phoenix. Mariana applied for a home There is a Christmas tree in with Habitat for Humanity in the window, food in the January. She was approved in pantry. There are new March and started blankets and sheets on the volunteering in April. She beds. There is a sewing table needed to log 200 hours of for crafts, a new washer and volunteer work to get her dryer, and a doghouse in the home. The volunteer hours backyard. showed her commitment. Her The house is one that Mariana work, plus the work of others, Hernandez helped rebuild with would keep her monthly Habitat for Humanity. Now, it mortgage payment affordable. is a home for her and her In July, she picked her home. daughter. It was beat-up, run-down and The house had everything she covered with gang graffiti. wanted when she dreamed of a But the rest of the houses on home of her own -- everything the street were well-kept. she had thought a year They had neat lawns and fresh earlier she could never have. paint. Plus, the neighbors She hoped her family would were friendly, and the home help, and they did. She did was close to her mother. not think her future "It was a quiet street, and neighbors would roll up their it had a big backyard for sleeves. And she never Alina," Mariana said. thought a Super Bowl star Her future neighbors were would show up to put on the thrilled when the work finishing touches. started on the house at the Now, all she has to do is end of summer. believe it is real. And On Saturday mornings at 6, convince 2-year-old Alina. Habitat volunteers and some "She doesn't think it is hers of Mariana's family would yet," Mariana said the day show up to work. Eventually, she moved in. "She keeps some of Mariana's future walking to the door and neighbors started to help out. saying it is time to go." Mariana was grateful. "It Shift in non-profit's work made me feel welcome." Traditionally, Habitat for An unexpected welcome On Humanity built homes on Dec. 21, Mariana moved into vacant lots. The framing her new home. The drywall was would rise from the ground, new, the roof was new, the shiny and new, and struggling kitchen had been moved and families would get a new expanded. She expected to beginning. walk into a lovely, but empty, But two years ago, Habitat home. for Humanity Central Arizona She did not expect Kurt and realized there might be a Brenda Warner to be there better way. when she got the keys. Homes were sitting empty The former Arizona Cardinals across the Valley because of quarterback and his wife, the relentlessly difficult through their First Things real-estate market. The banks First Foundation, had filled owned some, and cities owned the home with new furniture. some. Some owners simply They stocked the shelves with didn't want them anymore. groceries and bought a new So, rather than building only washer and dryer. new homes, Habitat for "I can't even begin to Humanity started taking old express what I think of it," homes and making them new -- Mariana said. "It's all just homes like Mariana's. so crazy. I can't believe how Habitat for Humanity figured lucky I am." that rehabbing a home would She was afraid, she said, to be cheaper than building a go to sleep in her new home new one. Maribel Saucedo, and to wake up the next director of Family Services morning. She thought it might at Habitat for Humanity all be a dream. Central Arizona, said But it was not. She woke up rehabbing a house would also early on her first morning revitalize neighborhoods. and stuck her head into Another advantage: People Alina's bedroom. Then, she might be able to stay closer went to the kitchen and to their families and checked all the closets. She communities. stood on her front porch Of the 52 homes completed by before the sun had come up. the local Habitat for It was all real, and she was Humanity in fiscal 2010-11, resolved, she said, to take 15 were renovations. advantage of her good fortune. "You will be seeing more of She will plant grass in the this," Saucedo said. "It's a backyard and vows to go to win for the neighborhood and college. the person moving in." She will go to the pound and Mariana wanted a home as soon adopt a dog, and she will as Alina was born in 2009. continue to volunteer with But Mariana could not afford Habitat because she knows one. what it can mean to a family. She works for a credit union "This is the start of my new and earns $13.25 per hour. It life. This is the start of my is enough to get by, she said, dream," Mariana said. "Now, but as a single mother, there Alina will grow up in a was never enough for a down stable home. She will never payment. And restrictions in have to move again. She the mortgage industry meant deserves that."
Tags: build, Hands, helping, home, Young