What We Do - Building Hope for Fox Valley
How We Do it
Through volunteer labor and tax-deductible donations of money and materials, Habitat builds and rehabilitates simple, decent homes with the help of homeowner (partner) families. Habitat homes are sold to partner families at no profit, financed with zero percent interest loans. The homeowners’ monthly mortgage payments are then recycled into funding.
Recently Completed Projects
Beltran Family Story
First and foremost, thank you for taking your time to read this letter, I kindly appreciate it. My name is Ana Beltran and I am 41 years old. The Dominican Republic is where I grew up with my family of 5 brothers and sister until the age of 23. In 1997 at the age of 23, I left all the ones I love including my 3 year old son to come to the USA. This life changing event gave me joy in what the future could bring but also left me heartbroken, because of the struggle of being away from my loved ones. I sought refuge in Gods arms and everlasting love, who gave me peace in my times of suffering through His promises. Soon enough, though it felt like an eternity, I began to see the promises. After 6 years I was able to obtain a US citizenship and finally have one of my heart’s long desires of going back to my home country and bringing my son back to the US. Not only was I happy that I was reunited with him, but that he could also then have an opportunity to attend college and have a better future, which gave me peace of mind.
As I supported my son in furthering his dream of graduating high school and attending college, I realized that I had an unaccomplished dream that had always been in my heart. The dream of one day having a home in the United States of America. As time passed, this dream became an even more distant impossible idea and I started to lose hope, until one day when the Lord opened up a door. One day as I did my grocery shopping, I came upon my friend Margarita, whom I was neighbors with for 20 years. As we talked and caught up, she introduced me to a program and explained that it could help me obtain a house. As she kept explaining, I could not help but think of how this was an opportunity God was laying before me. After receiving encouragement from God and Margarita, I filled out an application for Habitat for Humanity and within 3 months I was approved. Upon reading the letter of approval I could not help but jump for joy and once more be filled with hope. With the help of Habitat for Humanity and its great, loving and caring staff, my dream was now becoming a reality.
I know that the Lord has put this medium in my path to reach what I once thought was impossible. I have been a renter for 15 years of a small 1 bedroom studio and I no longer want to be one. With the help of the Lord and Habitat for Humanity, after completing my home and 350 sweat equity hours, I will be the owner of my own home located at Pleasant St. in Aurora, IL. Habitat for humanity has changed my life and has given me a sense of triumph and victory over what I dreamed to be impossible. It has given me the sense that I too can own my property and have a share in the American dream. Not only has it impacted my life, but that of my son as well. Now he will be able to have more room to do the things he likes, such as playing his instrument and working on his engineering projects. Working alongside the other volunteers and staff has been a great journey and experience. Through laughter and shared testimonies we encourage each other to patiently wait as our dreams are fulfilled. Knowing that Habitat for Humanity is a ray of hope not only for me but for others, like Bob, a staff member who has seen the hand of God through Habitat so many times, makes me glad to be part of it.
My desire after obtaining my home is to marry my fiancé, as the Lord in his word commands us to. If God sends me more children then I will receive them, but my primary focus is to see my 22 year old son finish his last year at NIU to obtain his BS in Electrical Engineering and to also better myself. Better myself by obtaining my GED and then becoming a certified nurse and advance from working a custodial position at Oswego school district 308. Not only better myself in the secular but in the spiritual way too and keep accomplishing the mission God has for me. As I faithfully follow him and attend my local church, Casa Del Alfarero, I serve my community and help those who are in need of love. By teaching the children at Sunday school, helping and serving my community through my church, I know that God is laying the proper foundations in my heart to keep loving Him. To this day I thank the Lord for what He has done and where He has brought me out of and all glory be to Him. I also thank Habitat for Humanity, from the bottom of my heart, for the awesome and great love that they have for the community. I pray that God may bless the program and all the staff, so that they may keep flourishing and helping all those in need.
Thank you, Ana A Beltran
My name is Zemuy Zeray, pictured in the front middle. I am 42 years old and was born and raised in Eritrea East Africa. I came to the United States as a refugee in November, 2005 through World Relief in Aurora. I came here after living 7 years in a refugee camp in Ethiopia. When I arrived in the US, I worked hard to bring my family from my home country Eritrea. In July 2007, I got very sick due to an injury to the spinal cord and had to have surgery on my spine. In April 2008, my lovely wife and son arrived in the US. We were finally reunited after a ten year separation. My wife Gebriala Gebreeskel (pictured on the left without the head dress) is 35 years old and working for Armour-Eckrich Meats. She works hard to take care of the family. My son, Nahom Gebremichael (pictured in the center behind me) is 18 years old. He came to the US when he was 10 years old and in the fourth grade. Now he has graduated from West Aurora High School with honors and plans to attend NIU this fall for four years. My mother Tsgehana Zeweldi (pictured on the right in the white head dress) is 62 years old and came to the US in 2013 and lives with us. She works as my personal assistant through DHS Rehabilitation Services.
We rent and all live together now in a two bedroom house. My son and mother sleep in one room and we take the other. We do not have enough space right now. In 2012, we heard about Habitat for Humanity from friends who already partner with Habitat for Humanity in Canada and another family in Indiana. They told us that Habitat helps people with disabilities and families with low income to get homes with no interest loans. So we applied in 2014 and we were accepted. We are very excited and happy to become homeowners. We worked most of our sweat equity hours at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. The staff and volunteers there were very nice and understood our situation. Our lives will absolutely change. We will be able to save money now instead of spending it all on high rent. This is a great opportunity for our future life.
Galena Blvd., Aurora
I am single mother raising two boys in an income based apartment complex. Despite the challenges of living in a low income complex, I have worked hard to try to inspire other children in the community to succeed and bring resources and services to my neighborhood. We look forward to living in a better environment away from loud music, drugs, and gang activity. In spite of all these obstacles, my children are good kids, getting good grades in school, and not getting in trouble. I am so proud of them. I am a Medical Assistant/CNA for Dr. John Lamiot at the Fox Valley Wound Care Associates, Aurora for the past eleven years.
Our family is very active in the community and we enjoy volunteering. I have been a parent volunteer/advocate for the United Way, S.P.A.R.K Parent Council Board, and I volunteer with the Parent Café. My family saves our spare change to be able to fund the Hot Holiday Meal program for the residents and senior citizens in our building. Just recently I received, to my surprise, and Outstanding Citizen Volunteer award from United Way.
I am so grateful to Fox Valley Habitat for Humanity for giving us the tremendous opportunity to be placed in our first home. Before I became involved with FVHFH, I met with so many financial advisors and organizations trying to purchase a home of my own. It was a frustrating and confusing process. I was either confronted with houses I could not afford or places that were in such poor condition and in need of so much work. I remember asking God to help me. I was ready to give up until I received a call from Ron Kelso regarding FVHFH. It has been a life changing experience. Latricia
Since the dedication of their home in October 2015, the family has added an addition to their home; a baby boy!
A Special Dedication
Solfisburg Ave., Aurora
Alma Gonzalez, her mother and three children have partnered with the Fox Valley Habitat for Humanity for roughly two years. They put in over 350 hours of Sweat Equity and on September 18, 2015 their new home was dedicated. The family is so excited to be out of their rental and into their brand new four bedroom home. Their total monthly home expenses have now been cut in half. Alma says this is a considerable blessing.
But, during their time of working and waiting for their home to be finished, the family’s lives were turned upside down. In February of 2015, Alma’s 15 year old son Jimmy was diagnosed with cancer.
One would think this family and this young man would feel broken and defeated, but Jimmy would not allow it. When doctors delivered the news, Alma felt like her world was crumbling as she cried uncontrollably. Jimmy looked at her and said, “Mom, where is your faith?” He went on the tell her, “Maybe this a blessing from God.” The family has stayed faithful throughout this terrible ordeal and continue to count their blessings. Alma’s employers at Coldwell Banker have been very supportive, allowing her to work from home so she can still support her family. They even took a collection to help her with finances. At Fox Valley Habitat, the sooner we could finish this house, the sooner this special family could move in. Realtors, family, and friends all stepped up to rush to finish the work on the house that Alma, her mother, two daughters, and son Jimmy had been dreaming of for so long.
The dedication on September 18, 2015 was momentous and exciting, but one person was absent from that special day. Jimmy passed away just nine days earlier, never getting to have his own bedroom for the first time in his life. The day was marked with releasing butterflies in honor of Jimmy.
We remember what Jimmy said, “Mom, maybe this is a blessing from God.” The people who saw Jimmy’s courage every day, the family, the doctors and nurses who treated him, and most certainly us at Habitat, have been changed in blessed ways because of Jimmy’s love and concern not for himself, but for everyone else.
Jimmy was right, have faith. God’s blessings are ever present when we think of others more than ourselves.
Future Homeowner Stories
In 1972, our families were chased out of Burundi, East Africa by a rival tribe, the Tutsi Tribe. Our families moved from Burundi to Rwanda, then from the camp in Rwanda to the Lukole Refugee Camp in Tanzania, East Africa where we settled for a while with our families. Theo was born in 1988 and I was born in 1993 we were both born in the refugee camp in Rwanda before moving to the Lukole camp.
Living at Lukole Camp was very difficult, but we managed with the little we had. We were just happy to be alive. We had to work for every little thing for survival. The place was very dusty with gravel streets with huge rocks. The community was very small with tents pitched very close to each other. Since the community was so small, people got to know each other well. A life with no electricity or indoor plumping is not easy. We used cooking oil for our lamps at night and always had to make sure we had extra oil, matches, and flashlights for emergencies. After eight o’clock it got very dark and everybody was required to be in their homes.
We were given word that we were going to the USA. Our families were moved once again to Kanembwa Camp to wait for the process to move to the United States. There we lived for about 18 months. This place was not a place that we could even make a home. We could not farm or go to school. We were treated like dirt because this tribe did not want us on their land and they were jealous that the people living in this camp were going to live in the United States and they were not. All we could do is sit and wait in anticipation for our turn to come to be sent to the USA. Our families lived in refugee camps for 35 years.
Then in 2007 our families were approved to settle in United States by the United High Commissioner for Refugees. When we found out that we were coming to America, we forgot all of our troubles. It was the best news anybody who lived in Lukole could ever have received. In June of 2007 our families immigrated to the United States. I was 14 years old. I graduated from middle and high school in Buffalo, New York. Theo was 18 when his dad and cousins immigrated to Aurora, Illinois. Our families knew each other in Africa.
Theo and I once again met on Facebook. Our first conversation started when I liked one of Theo’s pictures. We started emailing and chatting with each other, and the romance started from there. We were engaged in August of 2012 and we were married on August 17, 2013. I continue to go to school at Waubonsee Community College for nursing. My husband is an assistant supervisor at Berry Plastics. He has worked there since 2008. In November of 2014 we had a beautiful daughter, Odila and now we are expecting another baby in October 2016.
We presently live in a studio apartment with one bathroom and a shared living room/bedroom space. Everything we had once gathered for a home we had to get rid of because of lack of space. We were in desperate need of a bigger place to live after the birth of our first daughter, but were unable to afford a bigger apartment.
We learned about Habitat for Humanity from other families and friends who live in different states. Almost everybody we know from Africa who has moved to the United States owns a habitat home. They told us that the houses are the right size and very affordable. That’s when we searched for an affiliate in our area and met Debbi Albright. We applied for a home in November of 2014 and with much prayer we hoped that our family would be chosen. We were always waiting with anticipation for the postman to bring us some good news. Then one day in the spring of 2015, Theo went to get the mail and there was a letter from Fox Valley Habitat for Humanity. The letter said that we were accepted and would be new future homeowners. Both Theo and I started to cry with happiness and we celebrated and started to plan our new home.
We are very excited to be a part of the Habitat family. We have always wanted a bigger place to call home where our children can grow up. Living in a one bedroom house with everything stacked up on top of each other is dangerous with a toddler in the house. Habitat for Humanity is making our dream come true. Just working with Habitat families and getting to know each other is a blessing. On July 22, 2016 Barbara called from Habitat to ask me if our family would be free in August to have a groundbreaking for our new house. I was silent for a moment and asked Barbara if she was joking. She said it was no joke and that our new home was going to be located at Solfisburg in Aurora and our groundbreaking ceremony would be on August 23rd. I was so excited that I was screaming and shouting hallelujah!
God promised us a bigger place before we even knew about Habitat for Humanity and He has kept His promise. We thank God for giving us the house this soon because we need it more than ever. God is good! We can’t tell you in words what this means to our family. All we can say is, Thank you Lord!