Orlando and Dominic are very close brothers. They actually agree on most things. Decorating their new bedroom with a Broncos theme was an easy decision.
John and Amalia Castillo had very similar upbringings. They both lived in a trailer with a single parent that worked very hard to provide for the family. “When you think about it, kids don’t know any better about their situations,” John said. John and Amalia were both dearly loved and learned from a foundation of hard work and determination. As adults, John and Amalia were determined to buy a home for their children. “At the beginning of our marriage, I asked my wife to make a list of all the goals we wanted to accomplish together. The list was not long, but it was powerful… healthy children, a good marriage and a home for them both. From the paint to the posters, these football fans send a clear message about who they are rooting for. However, the boys had a tough time understanding that they could decorate their own room and that their decision would last for a while. Most of their lives had been spent moving every 6-12 months and being forced to follow a renter’s agreement that doesn’t allow bright colors or creative decorating. Stability and longevity represent what it means to paint your walls knowing that they are yours to decorate…until you decide to change them.
And now, as they return from their evening walk, the Castillos stand before their house and express how much they love their home. They reflect on the building process aka “the education in construction” and realize that each volunteer and supporter added to the love that fills the walls. The simple act of doing the laundry inside their home instead of at a laundry mat means more precious time with their kids. Time that can be spent playing together, helping kids with homework and cheering on the Broncos with the boys!
As a first-grader, Dylan loves to run, bike and play with his friends, but he has severe asthma so these activities can be challenging. Shelley Morales and her children, Celeste and Dylan, moved into their Habitat home in 2008. Prior to building their home, they lived in a basement apartment, which was not the ideal setting for a child with asthma. It was wet and cold, and they had no control over the thermostat. Dylan had multiple asthma attacks and was even hospitalized. He was unable to do all the things that he loved without getting sick. Habitat helped Shelley build a house “customized” to Dylan’s needs. That meant no carpet in his room or in the main living areas, and of course, the house was warm and dry throughout. Dylan has not had an asthma attack since they moved in. He even went skiing this winter and is playing soccer with his friends.
"As a mother, I can't tell you how happy it makes me to see my child leading a normal life after struggling with debilitating asthma during his first four years. Celeste is in her last year in Middle School and has been able to participate in more activities since we live so close to School." - Shelley Morales, Habitat Homeowner.
"Celeste is doing well in high school and since we live in a home that I can afford, she has a better chance of going to college and meeting her future dreams. Celeste is a very intelligent and responsible girl and I feel that having a safe place to call home is reassuring for her particularly while she goes through her teen years."
The Fessenden Family
The sense of stability and confidence from building her own home in 2007 has helped Liz Fessenden pursue her ultimate dream of becoming a teacher and an inspiration for many generations to come. After years of hard work, Liz graduated from Mesa State University with a Bachelors degree in Elementary Education! Through her own academic pursuits and diligent study habits, Liz has also been able to inspire her own children. Each of them now excels in school." As Liz said, “this house was fuel for ambition for my family.”
“Partnering with Habitat has given me the strength to conquer any of life’s dreams. Because of this home I have the confidence, faith and courage to accomplish anything. It is amazing to see our growth as a family because of this fantastic home.” in the little lives of many other students for years to come.
In May 2001, Ana Mendoza applied for her Habitat home in Leadville. At the time, she was working as a jewelry associate at Wal-Mart. As walls were raised during the construction of her home so was her spirit. Ana was promoted several times in her eight years at Wal-Mart. Three years ago Ana made a big career change. She followed her passion of working with children and accepted a job in the Early Head Start Program at Eagle County’s Health and Human Services Department. Ana’s new position required that she take six credit hours of early childhood education. Working closely with families on a day-to-day basis has inspired her to continue learning. She now has 31 credit hours and plans to finish her associate’s degree.
With mom working and going to school, home life is busy. But Ana’s kids are doing well. In a secure place where they can thrive, they excel in school, participate in sports and are active in their community.
When asked if any of her recent life successes were related to living in a stable, affordable home. Ana replied, “I didn’t realize it until I was asked, but it definitely had an impact. I thought back to when I was working to build my home and I remember how scared I was; afraid that I couldn’t do it and wouldn’t make my payments. Now I look at all that I’ve done and I feel comfortable with it. I’ve been blessed with all the changes in my life!”