Carbondale new Habitat for two lucky families
CARBONDALE – With a Trinity Broadcasting Network preacher sending out prayers through his television, Mario Chamarro answered the door to his dimly-lit apartment in Carbondale Tuesday night, a Spartan place he and his wife Isabel are eager to leave behind so they can hammer some nails and achieve their dream of owning a house. Sitting in the middle of a residential neighborhood, the Chamarros’ apartment complex is a somber place where dozens of families are packed into tight pads surrounding a large, grassy courtyard. It’s a place where the dream of home ownership remains distant, yet for the neighbors only a few yards away, it’s a dream that has become reality. Mario is a stay-at-home father, watching over his toddler son Samuel while Isabel is at work at the Carbondale Dental Center. Isabel is pregnant with another son, Joshua, who will likely grow up in a house many volunteers will help the couple build through the winter. For the Chamarros, Carbondale is the last stop for a very long time in lives of long-distance moves. Mario moved to Southern California a decade ago after growing up in Guatemala. Born in Los Angeles, Isabel is the daughter of a Pentecostal preacher, who brought his family to Colorado 11 years ago when Isabel was only 16. After living in Rifle and New Castle, Isabel finally settled with Mario in the Carbondale apartment four years ago. In July, Mario saw a flyer looking for families to apply for and build a home of their own through Habitat for Humanity, a Georgia-based Christian organization whose mission is to help families in need to build houses for themselves in attempt to stamp out poverty. Families are chosen based on their need, ability to pay for the house and willingness to spend up to 500 “sweat equity” hours hammering their home’s nails themselves. Habitat volunteers lend a hand in building the house, which the family can buy at cost with an interest-free loan. “I wasn’t sure about applying at the beginning,” Isabel said. “I didn’t really know how the whole program worked.” But Mario encouraged Isabel to apply, and by September, the Chamarros were chosen as one of two families who will buy the duplex through Habitat. Manuela Leal and her two children will share the other half of the duplex, an opportunity they’ve waited for since they were chosen three years ago. Though it’s been a long time coming, living in the duplex will be welcome because she and her children share a trailer with her mother and sister in Glenwood. The opportunity to buy – and build – a home in Carbondale is a big deal for families like the Leals and Chamarros. “In this valley, to try to purchase a home, the price of homes here is extremely high, and I don’t think if we had not been a chosen family we would have (been able to) afford a home,” Isabel said. Isabel and Mario will buy their home for $90,000 on a 20 year mortgage. And now, as construction on their new house begins, Isabel and Mario say they are one step closer to achieving their dream of raising their family in a home of their own. “The fact that we get to help in building the home, I think that’s very nice,” Isabel said. “Because it’s not like things are handed to you on a silver platter. You have to work for them.”Though it’s up to Isabel and Mario to put plenty of “sweat equity” into building their dreams, plenty of volunteers in the Roaring Fork Valley are happy to help them. The local Habitat chapter broke ground on the home on Nov. 1 and it’s expected to be complete by June. “It’s my way to give back,” said Habitat volunteer Ray Limoges at the groundbreaking. “I’ve had a pretty fortunate life. That’s one of the reasons I retired here. I firmly believe we’re breaking the cycle of poverty.”Ray’s wife Shirley Limoges said there’s so many families in the area that live in poor conditions that “they deserve a decent place to bring their children up.””We’re all God’s children,” she said. “We all deserve a fair chance in life.”The house is the first Habitat project in Carbondale, following projects completed in Emma in 2001 and Glenwood Springs in 2002. The local Habitat chapter was established in 2000, and its goal is to raise $300,000 per year for land acquisition and building materials for families who buy homes through Habitat in the future. Contact Bobby Magill: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
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