PEÑITAS — After living in a travel trailer for years sharing beds and sleeping on the floor, the De La Rosa-Perez family will spend its first Christmas in a home that was built by volunteers in one week.
The effort, which brought together Buckner International and Woman’s Missionary Union of Texas, allowed the family to see its dream of becoming homeowners much sooner than the 10 years Juan Perez estimated it would take him to build his family a home.
Last week, volunteers presented the family with keys to their home. While the home isn’t exactly move-in ready yet, the family should be home for Christmas.
The Woman’s Missionary Union of Texas brought 19 women for the effort from Texas and Illinois who spent a week of their vacation time building the home. The women aged 43-74 earned money for their effort through donations and gifts.
Buckner assisted with about 15 volunteers of their own, who included contractors and friends of the family receiving the home.
Gabriel Flores, a mission group coordinator at Buckner, said the De La Rosa-Perez family was selected based on work they did with social workers in getting prepared to manage a home.
The group works to not just bring Christianity into the lives of colonia residents around Peñitas but also help them learn English, get a GED or seek basic medical care.
“We want to prepare them for their new life,” Flores said.
Through the construction process, the family helped out as much as they could. The mother, San Juana De La Rosa, was away most of the time as one of the couple’s four children was diagnosed with a lung infection, which made it impossible for him to stay at the family’s travel trailer.
“It was a hazardous factor” that made the groups decide to help the family get a new home, Flores said.
While working with the family, Buckner ensures the family will be able to maintain their home and pay for the new expenses that come along with a 768-square-foot home. This way, families don’t end up selling the home given to them by volunteers.
“We don’t want that to happen,” Flores said. “But this is a hard-working family. They’ve met their goals.”
Perez was at the worksite almost daily, said Flores, offering his skills along with those of his friends to get the house nearly complete in the span of a week. Flores said the family’s assistance doesn’t just help move the process along quicker, but helps the family realize that they worked toward getting their own home.
“If you give someone something and they don’t work for it, it won’t matter to them,” he said. “This family was there 100 percent of the time.”
While not all the women were completely knowledgeable about building homes, there was something for every volunteer to do, said Sandy Wisdom-Martin the executive director for the Woman’s Missionary Union of Texas.
“There were women digging trenches for the drainage and with every hammer, every nail, every piece of wire that was pulled – every bit of it was done with love,” Wisdom-Martin said. “It was love for God because God asked us to build and for love of this family.”
When they received the keys to their new home last week, De La Rosa was speechless. Though she had been gone for most of the construction process to be with her son, she was able to cook for the volunteers to express her gratitude.
“It’s hard to build a home in one week, but things like that made it such a fun but rewarding experience,” Flores said.
Perez told the group he was still struggling to deal with the reality that strangers were so willing to help his family. Finally having a home is a “huge weight” off his shoulders for the well being of his family, he said.
Along with the home, the missionary women gave the family a bible and quilt.
Already, the group is discussing their next visit to the Rio Grande Valley to help needy families.
“We will be back,” Wisdom-Martin said. “Maybe we’ll build two (homes).”