A Life-changing Home

It’s pretty well known that a Habitat home can change a life but in the case of the Lopez family, the home has changed hundreds of children’s lives. Magadalena Lopez, also known as Màle (Ma-lay) is the matriarch of the family of the family of five. She’s also the coordinator of the Magic Bus, a mobile preschool that brings games, books and a learning environment to various neighborhoods throughout the valley.

It’s in this capacity that Màle  has thrived and shared her love of learning with hundreds of children over the past 11-plus years. This year it’s even more of an adventure between Covid and being able to teach her grandson on the bus each week. When we caught up with her, she had just finished her day on the Magic Bus. Instead of 48 children, she sees 24 thanks to Covid. And she’s starting an informal spin off for moms.

“A long time ago, I had a group of moms… I was teaching them basic English. And now I am going to start another group again, I have two moms who have asked me for a long time, ‘please teach me, like you teach the kids in the bus,’ ” Màle says. This is a project she does as a community mobilizer, not because she’s receiving a pay check. It’s important to her that others have the chance to get ahead and can be part of the community. 

When she’s not working, volunteering or being a mom, Màle studies. Since the family moved into the Fox Hollow (Edwards) house a decade ago, she’s been studying. First she got her preschool director certification and now she’s focused on attaining her Associate’s Degree in Early Childhood Education. 

Pedro Lopez has worked at the Marriott in Vail for more than 25 years — but he’s looking forward to retirement. But as with most busy families, he’s not really going to retire but instead change careers. They aren’t sure which direction he will take, but since he’s an awesome cook — oftentimes asked to bring food for work events — he might do something with food. 

“This has always been our big dream and thanks to you we are achieving it. We feel lucky to have the opportunity to own our house,” the family shared in a letter when they received the keys to their home. 

Then there’s the three Lopez children who are thriving thanks to the Habitat home. Alejandra is a stay-at-home mom of young Xavier Emiliano, who keeps Ms. Màle on her toes in the Magic Bus. Brisa works at Home Depot, is saving money and thinking of becoming a realtor. Finally, Lizette will be starting her senior year at Battle Mountain High School. 

Alejandra and her partner may continue the Habitat legacy — they’ve recently applied for a home. Until they hear, however, the family was heading to Home Depot to pick paint colors and paint the interior of the house. “We’re excited, we’re going to paint the inside for the first time. I told my daughters they have to decide what color they want to paint the house.”

And isn’t that what having a home is all about? Family time, creating memories and making your house into a home.