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Macias Family

Many devastating setbacks turned into the joy of owning their own home



That is what Minerva described the Hesed House, a shelter assisting people experiencing homelessness. Minerva is the younger of two daughters of Elsa Macias, who is a future homeowner at Fox Valley Habitat for Humanity. The oldest is Vivian. Elsa and her daughters live with her older sister and husband, their two daughters and Maria, Elsa’s mother who also plans on moving with them to their new home.

So how did Elsa and her daughters end up at the Hesed House? Elsa described her experiences as difficult. She had moved many times in attempts to find a sustainable place for her children. She was married and later divorced which was a three year process due to a custody battle.

As the years went by, they continued to find a place to live, settling into one apartment, in which they were evicted as Elsa explained as devastating. During this time, Elsa noticed she had significant chronic pain and got physically ill. She continued to shake these feelings off to stay strong for her family.

It turns out, Elsa was diagnosed with Lupus, a chronic autoimmune disease that creates auto-antibodies that attack and destroy healthy tissue in the body, and Fibromyalgia, a disorder that perpetuates musculoskeletal pain. Despite her serious condition, Elsa had nowhere else to go; she was forced to turn to the Hesed House for 6 months.

“I wanted to leave and live somewhere better.” Vivian explained. “I didn’t feel comfortable there. Everyone was sharing and sleeping in the same area. We would be hungry and the kitchen would be locked up.”

After the few months at the Hesed House, Elsa, Vivian and Minerva moved into Elsa’s sisters’ house. When asked about how their current living situation is compared to the Hesed House, they informed that although they had a place to call their home, there was a similarity in shared spaces and the issue of only having one shared bathroom between nine family members. That’s what led Elsa to continue to look for a better living situation for her family.

After a long day, Elsa was exasperated and turned to the internet in search for other apartments to potentially move into. She had thought back onto her time in a homeless shelter and prayed for help. After browsing for a few minutes, she came across Habitat for Humanity and proceeded to research the organization and found our local affiliate. After thinking on it for half an hour, she picked up the phone and dialed in. She set up a meeting for 7 am the next day. The application form was filled out in November 2016, and she was finally approved in August 2017. And how do the girls feel?

“Excited!” said Vivian.

“Happy!” Minerva shouted.

Their faces lit up as our conversation shifted from homelessness to how they plan on decorating each room. Minerva is excited to decorate with unicorns and Elsa said she had Egyptian themes in mind for the family room, and hopefully Betty Boop themes for her room.

Elsa's home was primarily built by women owned companies and was the location for our Women Build Event. Elsa and her family had their dedication ceremony in November of 2019 and have been celebrating many milestones since they moved in and have made many memories as a family. 


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