Working Hard for Her Children
Irene's story is a familiar one. A hard working single mom, she's just trying to give her kids everything she can.
Irene has worked in the same factory for the past 16 years. She is able to support herself and three children with the money she makes, but it isn't enough to buy her own home. She applied for a traditional mortgage twice and was turned down both times because she doesn't make enough money.
Living in their small apartment for 13 years has been hard on the family. Her daughters, age seven and 11, not only share a bedroom, they also have to share a bed. With two young girls, plus a 23-year old son, having just one bathroom has also been a challenge!
Irene is excited to own her own home, but is quick to explain that it's not for herself. "To me it's like a dream come true but it's not just thinking about me," she says. "It's more about thinking about my kids."
Irene has really embraced building her own home, soaking up as much knowledge as she can about construction. Irene completed her required 250 hours of 'sweat equity' long ago, but continues to volunteer every Saturday. "I worked so hard, I worked so long to get to this point. I'm not going to stop now, I'm going to go till the end," she says.
At that end, she will have a home she can be proud of, where she has put so much of herself into the house. "You have no idea the beautiful experience. It's not just a house, it's a special house. See these walls, you say, 'oh my gosh I did this wall'. And thinking about every single nail," she says laughing. "It's hard. Sometimes I had to do it twice, or more like three times just to do one nail!"
Working Habitat's Women Build last May was "the best experience of my life," Irene says. She enjoyed working with a great group of women and has remained in touch with many of the volunteers on Facebook. She enjoyed the event so much, she plans to be involved with the event again this year, as well as with other home builds, saying "I will continue to help Habitat, that's for sure. That's for sure."
Irene is grateful to all of the volunteers who helped build her home. To show her appreciation, she often brought food to the build site for volunteers. They all love her tamales and pico de gallo! "I wish I could be there every single day" to thank the volunteers, she says.
"It's amazing to help other people. How I feel when people help me, I've got no words to say," Irene says. "I want to say thank you to all the sponsors, the churches, the companies who pay the workers to volunteer. And all the volunteers. Especially the volunteers."