MEDFORD, Ore. — Most people know that Habitat for Humanity helps low-income families become owners of affordable homes that they, in part, build. The specifics of the program, and how it truly impacts families, is not so well-known.
Restaurateur Guillermo Sanchez stays busy with his restaurant on Riverside.
“I’ve been working in the valley for 18 years like cooking breakfast for people. Doing the cooking. People know me for Memo,” said Sanchez.
His journey has not always been easy.
“This kind of life has been…It’s a tough situation,” Sanchez said. He was trying to raise his three boys alone and working two jobs, while living in a crumbling house.
“Like the winters, there was no heat, so like in the winters it was really cold,” recalled son Deigo. “We couldn’t sleep through the night so we had to like cover ourselves with a lot of blankets to like at least feel a little bit warm.”
“At our old house we, my brothers and my dad, all had to share one room because we didn’t have enough rooms for all of us,” said Joshua.
But then, they found Habitat for Humanity.
“We build houses for people in need that are low income and willing to help participate such as construction in the project and then upon completion we use volunteer labor donated materials if we can and then upon completion of the home we then sell the home at a 30 year no interest mortgage,” said Habitat for Humanity rep, Denise.
Like all Habitat families, the Sanchez family invested hundreds of hours into building their new home.
“Well I feel better because we finally have a nice house we have a kitchen, we have a living room you know, it’s not that amazing, but it’s still good enough for us and our yard is just perfect. All the effort that we put into it,” described Joshua.
“How I feel way better about this house is that we actually have neighbors. Good neighbors. We’re almost about to get new ones which really makes us happy,” said Jonathan.
Those neighbors, in fact all the families in this part of the neighborhood, are habitat families. There are currently 4 homes under construction, 5 were built last year, and there is also a new program meant to provide significant upgrades or renovations to already-standing homes.
Most of the time our homeowners take really good care of their homes and they don’t mind that we’re coming into the neighborhood and I think people are glad to see us offer up a hand up opportunity to people especially knowing that they have to participate in it. They have to put in at least 500 hours of sweat equity, be there at the jobsite, and learn how to build and how to take care of the home.
“The plants they bring out the beauty in the house so I did the outside of the line because that’s where we worked on the plants,” said Diego.
“We grabbed a shovel, dug a hole, put new plants in and new soil and watered it in, and it became beautiful,” Jonathan described.
“The roses are my favorite because they actually have colors,” Joshua remarked.
The yard, safe home, and strong roof are actually not the biggest benefit of habitat for humanity.
“It’s not uncommon for children to have to move 10 times maybe,” explained Denise. “So, one of the benefits that I see right off the bat is that I know that young children when they move into a habitat home they’ll be there for the rest of their growing up years. They don’t have to move any longer. So that’s what’s warmest in my heart.”
Which has certainly turned out to be the case for the Sanchez family.
“Well our life has changed because we’re worried about like risking our lives in the house with the roof and stuff like that,” said Joshua, “and this house it’s new and its built good and we also have a nice yard, too.”
“My life changed by the whole thing what they did with building houses is that when we moved in over here I made new friends and I really liked enjoying it here because we have a nice yard here, the other yard we had dried up dirt and there was no beautiful grass just pure gravel,” said Jonathan.
“Same as him I made new friends here my lifestyle is a little bit better now and like now I’m feeling safe here. Like when I go to sleep here I just like warm blankets I feel like more warmer than the other, our old house,” said Diego.
“After habitat everything is coming true. All my goals. All of my dreams are coming true,” said Memo.
Memo is one of the more than 1,000 volunteers who work each year to make the dreams of other families come true, too.
If you know someone who would benefit from Habitat for Humanity, or would like to help out, you can either contact the Rogue Valley Habitat Administrative Office at 541-779-1983. You can also go to their website.
There is a pre-application online that you can fill out to see if you qualify. To find out more, you can go to a free breakfast at Sacred Heart Church at 8 a.m. Friday morning. All denominations are welcome.