In an effort to offer more local families a hand up into homeownership, Habitat for Humanity Tucson partnered with Old Pueblo Community Services to offer down-payment assistance grants. The program was designed to assist non-Habitat homeowners, those who qualify for a traditional mortgage but need a little help saving for a down-payment.
In keeping with Habitat’s basic sweat equity value, each recipient was required to provide 25 hours of community service to receive their grant. Additionally, a family could not earn more than 80% of the area median income to qualify.
In a letter to Old Pueblo Community Services, one grant recipient describes how she benefited from the grant and from completing her community service hours:
I have completed the 25 hour requirement of volunteer work for the house grant that I received. I worked those hours delivering meals to elderly and disabled members of the Tucson community who are otherwise limited in their capacity to acquire and prepare food for themselves. My experience was refreshing in many ways because I really loved connecting with the people I was helping. They always seemed so grateful to see me and I loved that I was playing a role in one of their most basic needs. I especially loved their humility and kindness. Very often in today’s world I encounter people who behave arrogantly, are closed-minded and seem to know what everyone else should be doing while being blind to their own shortcomings. There was none of that with the clients I served and they all seemed to have a handle on what really matters in life. So I think that the brightening of our days was a mutual experience in this process.
There was also an element of sadness about the experience for me though: I felt sad and even anxious at the thought that there is so much need and so much lesser support available for those needs. I wondered where the families of these individuals were that I was serving meals to. I questioned the set-up of a society that would have its elders living in isolation during the winters of their lives instead of surrounded by family who care. I have no family of my own, other than my two children, so I would be honored and grateful to serve and learn from my elders if I had some that needed and wanted my help. I also found myself feeling disappointed that we, as a society, are living in such separated, isolated conditions. My family that consists of only me and my children are also isolated. We have a nice community of friends, but they are very busy with their own families and I am the one and only provider of everything for the three of us. It is frequently overwhelming for me to live this way and I imagine that this experience is amplified in some ways for the clients I served as they often they would spend many days, weeks, and months with almost no one in their lives besides Mobile Meals delivery drivers.
I only had the opportunity to wish one client a happy birthday during the time that I was completing my volunteer hours (no other clients had birthdays during that period). It was very sweet. It really seemed to light up the woman’s face when I told her that I value her presence in the world and think that she’s an amazing woman. She seemed to doubt me for that one so I went on to give her some proof of her greatness. I told her that without her, all of those lovely children and grandchildren she had displayed in photos that hung on her walls wouldn’t even be here. She seemed to be able to agree with that angle of things, if only because she could see the greatness in her lineage. She brought them into this world, created a community of people, raised them up, and now is living-out the quieter years of her life. I felt inspired by the power of kindness and was reminded of how important that is to perpetuate in the world. It may even be the most important thing.
Thank you so much for your help with everything, Lourdes.