It’s only been seven months since the Hernandez family was notified that they had been selected as the recipients of a new home to be built by Habitat for Humanity of San Patricio County, but it must have seemed much longer to them.
Joel, his wife Guadalupe and their daughters Leana and Senaida have been living in Joel’s father’s house while waiting to move into the Habitat home.
The wait was over Sunday, as the Habitat folks blessed the house, recognized all the volunteers and businesses that helped build it, and finally, handed over the keys.
Habitat broke ground on the lot at the corner of McClung and McCampbell in March, with the help of some twenty members of the Holiday Ramblers #444 and the Ministerial Alliance.
The Ramblers laid the foundation, putting in a total of 1,500 hours. Members of the Ministerial Alliance cooked for the Ramblers as they worked.
Since that groundbreaking dozens of volunteers have logged a total of around 3,500 hours, according to quick calculations done by project manager Sylvia Nugent.
The family themselves were charged with putting in 400 hours, but went above and beyond to rack up 1,234 hours of “sweat equity.”
Even their older daughter Leana was able to contribute, earning the family five points for every A she got on her report card at Charlie Marshall Elementary. Although she only had two report card periods to work with, she added 65 points to the family’s credit.
Family members were some of the hardest working volunteers including Matias Aguilar, Joel’s cousin and fellow family members Eric and Josue Hernandez. Frank Cook, a family friend put in 110 hours on the house.
Habitat for Humanity Chairman Mike Keller had special thanks for the city of Aransas Pass, noting that the city made it possible to purchase the lot.
The city can be proud of the house that Habitat has built. A lovely little home with a privacy fenced backyard now sits on a lot that was once filled with weeds, dead brush, debris and trash and hadn’t been on the tax records since 1992.
Once speeches had been made and certificates handed out to those outstanding volunteers and businesses, the blessing began.
The Habitat for Humanity San Patricio board members presented their “house blessing in a basket” to the family. Different items, such as a loaf of bread representing that they would “never go hungry in this house” as well as a bible, quilt, soil from the four corners of the lot of their new home and many other items filled and spilled over a large basket.
As those items were given and each assigned a blessing, Lupe and Leana wiped away tears and Joel tried to keep hold of a wriggly Senaida, who just couldn’t wait to play in her new room, one all her own.
Once the blessing ceremony was finished Keller dedicated the house, and presented the key to the front door to Joel, who took the opportunity to thank everyone involved in the project.
The lady who was there through the entire process was Habitat member Sylvia Nugent. Nugent was part of the selection committee that ultimately chose the Hernandez family.
She acted as foreman of the build as well as working alongside the volunteers, beginning with the foundation and seeing it through to the end.
After the keys had been given to the family she still wasn’t finished, Nugent and Keller were overheard discussing the installation of additional smoke detectors in the Hernandez’s new home.
In the end they were surrounded by friends and family, welcoming them into their new home, just in time for Christmas.
When asked when they would move in Lupe replied “Right after this!”