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The Habitat Tucson Blog
Read Habitat Happenings and family stories to see the impact of Habitat’s work locally.
Andy Rubio stumbled upon the Americorps internship program in search of employment after moving to Tucson, Arizona from Texas. He is a soon to be architect who aspires to surpass the standards set by Frank Lloyd Wright. He hopes to one day start his own architectural firm that centers around the preservation and incorporation of nature in the common home.
Family partners mentor Habitat families on their journey towards homeownership. They provide consistent, frequent contact with the home buyer family to prepare families to become strong, stable, and self-reliant homeowners.
They guide families in maintaining current and future financial obligations, support them in achieving sweat equity hours, provide their family with other community resources as needed, and present the keys to the partner family during their home dedication.
As a 7th grade teacher at Mansfield Middle School for the past thirteen years, Elizabeth is no stranger to hard work, patience, and resilience. But Elizabeth, Cesar, and their four teenaged children Jailene, Jazelle, Gizelle, and Cesar Jr. have been renting a cramped house for the past six years. Everyone’s squeezed in tight. Privacy? Forget it! Not only is the house filled well beyond capacity, but also has flooring issues and a leak in the roof causing summertime mold. And in the winter, poor insulation led to huge heating bills.
Being accepted into the Habitat homeownership program this year has been life-changing.
the HabiStore was able to divert 1,040 tons of building materials, appliances, new and gently used furniture, and home accessories from the local landfill. That’s more than double the tonnage the HabiStore saved from the landfill in previous years!
The HabiStore serves as a recycling hub that helps keep usable household items out of landfills. All sales generated by the HabiStore directly support the building of additional energy-efficient, affordable homes in the Tucson community.
Mary Catherine’s life changed forever after a rare flesh-eating bacteria infected her nearly 20 years ago. She had 24 surgeries in a matter of weeks, and both legs had to be amputated to ensure she survived. Afterwards, she wasn’t sure she would ever live in an accessible home–until Habitat came along.
“I have learned what community can do,” Mary Catherine says. “When community works together, I am blown away. Whether it’s just two people or all of Habitat, it’s really nice when people willingly help each other in a little community.”
Nancy first joined the Habitat team 16 years ago. What started out very Mom-and-Pop developed into a thriving community of passionate people – all devoted to the mission that everyone deserves a decent place to live, and everyone can do something to help make that possible for another family.
“That’s all the special things—the workers, the homeowners, the volunteers, the donors—and the mission is on top. That’s what we always come back to,” she says. “That’s why we’re here.”
As our poet laurate, TC is excited about integrating poetry into our community, bringing poetry to other acts of service – because for TC, poetry is a doorway into social justice. “Anytime we encounter something that stretches our understanding of what is possible, that to me feels social justice,” s/he explains. “It feels like potential for change, growth, all of these radical ways of living. And—and and and! I think if it stops at the page, it’s missed a whole deeply, deeply important step in changing the world.”
In 2013, when Ezequiel and Salome were just 7 and 8 years old, their father abandoned the family. He cut Manuela off from their bank accounts, sabotaged her car, and didn’t pay rent or child support. “After three months we had to move out of our home,” Manuela says. “And at the time Ezequiel’s asthma was out of control – so we were at the doctor quite often, every two weeks.”
But Manuela was determined to care for her family.
When they think about what their new home will be like, Adan and Guadalupe picture a completely different life. “Stability, comfort, safety – everything’s going to be better,” Guadalupe says. “Home is where the family is – it’s love. Just being happy together. Just being able to rest and know that everyone you love is there.”
In the past year, thanks to generous donations from individuals and community businesses, the HabiStore was able to divert almost 600 tons of building materials, appliances, new and gently used furniture and home accessories from the local landfill. That’s more than double the annual amount the HabiStore typically saves from the landfill!
That’s always been Pete’s favorite part about Habitat – the humanity part. “We treat people – no matter who they are, no matter where they come from, no matter what their story – as equals.”
Each Habitat neighborhood is an extension of that humanity. And it’s something Pete notices, when speaking with homeowners – they absolutely love their neighbors. “They’re not talking about just their house—they’re talking about the people around them. They’re talking about the community,” says Pete. “And I think that’s much more powerful than four walls.”
A veteran who served in the 82nd Airborne Corp, John Johnson was struggling with the repairs his aging home required. A friend called on John’s behalf and Habitat Tucson’s Home Repair Supervisor Rebecca arrived and walked him through the process. Getting the call from Habitat came as a complete surprise.
“If you don’t serve mankind then what are you doing in this world?” says veteran homeowner Joseph Bailey Jr.
Joseph has completed over 150 sweat equity hours in just six months of being in the Habitat homeownership program and he’s loved every minute of it. He’ll be the first of his generation to own a new home. And he plans to leave the home to his daughters.
Elizabeth had not had heating in her home for the last 11 years. She recalls her house getting as low at 32 degrees – literally freezing. Elizabeth would have to bundle up in her husbands’ old sweaters and cuddle with her dogs in bed until late afternoon when the sun finally warmed the house.
Thanks to Critical Home Repair and A Brush With Kindness efforts, she finally had heat in her house this winter.
For the first time in 11 years.
Growing up Richard moved over 20 times with his family. But he wanted something else for his children. Richard had known about Habitat for Humanity a long time and had even volunteered for Habitat in the past, but applying to own a Habitat home had never occurred to him. Look Mom, my friends!’ All these kids are going to grow up together and that’s what Habitat is.”
Resource for Seniors Downsizing. For many seniors, the decision to downsize your home is inevitable but also a potentially difficult decision to make. Whether you are downsizing to cut costs, be closer to loved ones, address medical needs, or to just simplify your lifestyle, the HabiStore is here to help!
Habitat’s Home Repair Specialist, Shianna Searcy, says, “The cost of living is increasing, but most people are on fixed incomes and cannot keep up with expenses. Some are barely surviving.”
The more hands on deck, the more we can do to make sure the homes in our community are safe, strong, and stable.
There’s something really special about people who come through Habitat. That’s what Daniel noticed right away.
Daniel Avila, a civil engineer from Ecuador, was first interested in volunteering at Habitat because it correlated with his degree, and he wanted a chance to learn about US construction firsthand. But he kept coming back as a volunteer because of the people.
The Tucson HabiStore is a good deal for you, our community, and the environment.
The Tucson Habistore is a home improvement store and donation center that sells new and gently used building materials, furniture, appliances, home decor, and more to the public at a fraction of the retail price.
By supporting the Habistore, through donating, shopping, and volunteering, you are not only supporting your local community but also helping promote Habitat for Humanity’s mission to provide families a decent and stable place to live. Through shelter, we empower.
Currently, Adriana and her two sons, RJ and Gabriel, share one room in her parents’ home. The boys sleep in bunk beds one side of the room and Adriana crams her bed on the other side.
“I had one of those devastating feelings like I’ll never be able give my boys what my parents had given me and my sisters. But now all my dreams are coming true,” says Adriana, excited be building her home with her own two hands, just like her father did when he built her childhood home. “We’re doing it.”
Marti Price of Voyage RV Quilters 2 was very busy this year and donated a total of nine quilts to Habitat Tucson, one of which was a special quilt of valor for our this year’s veterans build home.
These quilts are a special memento of an emotional and rewarding day. Our Habitat families work so hard to reach their goal of homeownership. And the home dedication is the apex of their journey and their accomplishments. We like to think of the quilt representing different aspects of the family’s personal journey to this day.
John and Sally first worked with Habitat in 1994, when a church group started coming in for weekends on Saturdays to build houses in the community. They were drawn to the hands-on work, the way they could see a difference made palpably in neighborhoods around Tucson. Since retiring, both John and Sally both share their talents with Habitat for Humanity several times a week.
The very first Habitat volunteer. Builder of over 250 Habitat Tucson homes. Devoted father, husband, and community member. All these describe the incomparable Leland Yarbrough.
A gifted carpenter, Leland brought the quality of his craft to the construction team. His faith led him to serve, and thousands of people were impacted by his generosity.
That includes Leland’s daughter, Leah. Recently, Leah’s husband received an unexpected bonus through his work and she was inspired make a gift to Habitat.
“It was a way to honor God and honor our Pops,” Leah said.
Every day, seven people die in home fires, most in homes that lack working smoke alarms. Making sure a home is safe takes more than building a solid foundation. Habitat Tucson, in partnership with the Tucson Fire Department, is ensuring that homeowners have new and working smoke alarms in their homes.
Since 1999, Habitat Bangladesh has helped disaster-affected families in Bangladesh through emergency shelter kits and transitional housing in the early phase of its response.
In this podcast, John Armstrong speaks with Mrs. Green’s World about how Habitat for Humanity works with partners and volunteers to respond to disasters and help families rebuild more resilient homes.
My name is Ji and I just finished an internship with Habitat for Humanity Tucson. I thought this internship would solely be focused on working in the marketing department, but I soon learned it was much more than that. I got to see how all the Habitat Tucson departments worked together towards a common goal, from working on outreach to putting mission into action and working at the build site.
Homeownership is the key to true self-reliance and the next step to greater independence. Barry and Fatimatu look forward to raising their children in a safe and stable home that will give them the foundation they need to thrive as students.
“Education paves the way for opportunity,” says Barry. “We want our children to become the best they can be.”
Habitat Tucson’s goal of a world where everyone has a decent place to live wouldn’t be possible without the help of our generous corporate partners. We depend on vital partnerships with organizations like the Jewish Community Center (JCC) to help amplify our mission of building affordable homes for Tucson families.
Habitat Tucson’s Aging in Place (AIP) program is a home repair program that serves local limited-income senior citizens and focuses on accessibility improvements, mobility modifications, enhancements and critical home repairs that are crucial to help seniors live in their own homes longer. Karen and Robert have now been in their Carriage Park neighborhood home for 28 years; both 75-years-old and their home has been aging along with them.
John and Marie have finished their sweat equity hours and are almost done with their homeownership classes. John pictures the day of their dedication. “We’re so excited to choose our home. We’ve been to more than five or six dedications and I can’t wait for us to be in that position. Seeing our family partner hold the key to our home and say, this is your house!”
With the help of kind and selfless volunteers, the Faith in Action Build day was very successful and rewarding. The Faith in Action Build day included 22 volunteers, neighbors and staff from Habitat Tucson. Volunteers completed A Brush With Kindness by repainting the exterior of the house. At the end of the day, the house was completely repainted.
Habitat for Humanity Tucson will be 37 years old on Saturday, February 17th! So we are celebrating our partnership in the community by having 37% off Anniversary Sale at the HabiStore! Come wish us a happy birthday and take advantage of this amazing discount on unique and gently used home goods, appliances, and building materials.
Tucson Electric Power will be celebrating their 125th birthday on October 28th with a day of service. TEP employees and their families will volunteer their time to help improve a Tucson neighborhood by partnering with LiteracyConnects to repair their property and help Habitat for Humanity Tucson to break ground at Minton Court, a new 9-home affordable housing development in the Amphi neighborhood.
The Rainbow Build is a homegrown build that was started in Tucson in 2005. Born out of an effort for inclusivity, raising awareness and building a strong partnership with the LGBTQA community, the Rainbow Build has mobilized a diverse array of organizations, groups and individuals to fight substandard housing and build affordable homes in Southern Arizona.
These four hobbyists have a lot to offer. Between them, they have a well of knowledge from electrical to woodworking and anything between. Soon, the HabiStore will be offering workshop hours to volunteers interested in learning these valuable skills. The four hobbyists are more than happy to impart their knowledge to willing volunteers!
Breanna volunteers four days a week at the HabiStore and her hours serve a dual purpose. Not only is Breanna giving back to her community, she’s also gaining experience to enter the workforce. Breanna participates in a job development skills program through Elite Community Services, an organization whose goal it is to empower self-sufficiency and independence for families and young adults.
Until Habitat for Humanity Tucson, the idea of being a homeowner was nothing but a dream. In fact, I thought it was impossible. I am thankful that I decided to call Habitat Tucson, and I’m even more grateful for the opportunity to become a homeowner. Now I have the freedom to make the decisions regarding my home.
Passionate about their service, the IBEW Tucson chapter was looking for a way to utilize their professional talents as a way to give back to their Tucson community. Through their partnership with Habitat Tucson, they were able to direct their skills, energy and goodwill at the 2016 Blitz Build—a record breaking effort to build four homes in eight days!
Habitat for Humanity Tucson’s Rainbow Build has been selected as the service project for the 4th Annual Multifaith Pride Service.
A program of Wingspan’s Multifaith Working Group and the LGBT Jewish Inclusion Project, the Pride Service is a yearly event of heart and blessings dedicated to celebrating the lives and relationships of Tucson’s LGBTQ community.
Alyson found Habitat through New Beginnings where she was living in recovery-based transitional housing with her daughter, Jennie.
“I’ve always lived in an apartment complex with case management,” she said. “This is our first time living alone, paying rent…But all this time in transitional living has made me a strong, independent woman. I’m okay with just me and Jennie being together.”
February 11, 2011 marks Gina’s ninth anniversary working as a
network associate for Carondelet. She started as a registration clerk and now works as an Office Coordinator in the Diabetes Center, and she loves her job.
“I want to go to work. I love doing what I do. I’m pretty lucky,” she said with a huge smile.
In fact it was her work that brought her to Habitat.
Pierre and his wife Clothilde brought their two youngest daughters to Tucson in 2007 after fleeing conflicts in three
different countries for more than thirty years.
“We left our home in Burundi when war came in 1973. We lived in a refugee camp in Tanzania. War came to Tanzania so we moved to Rwanda. When the ethnic cleansing began in Rwanda, we fled back to Tanzania.”
The Allen family is ready for the American dream! When Bernadette received the phone call that her family was going to own a Habitat home, she said she was jumping and screaming with the kids. She called her husband Jon to share the good news and he was in disbelief.
Jon said, “We always felt like we couldn’t get ahead. We don’t ever get picked for anything.”