Gabriel & Elizabeth Barreda
Photo credit – Ryan Mihalyi Photography
Safe New Home for Sahuarita-area Veteran in Nonprofit’s Home Swap
By Tom Hopkins, Neighborhood Outreach Manager
In addition to building new homes, Habitat for Humanity Tucson, has a Neighborhood Partnership Program. A program where we repair homes in partnership with the community and homeowners. Services range from energy efficiency upgrades, exterior home repairs with our A Brush with Kindness program, and revitalizing homes’ integrity through Critical Home Repairs.
Each home repair project is unique and reflects the needs of the homeowner and the community. In determining which repair projects to undertake Habitat Tucson looks at the families’ income, willingness to partner and need for services.
In February partners of Habitat for Humanity Tucson, Long Realty in Green Valley, referred a Veteran in critical need of home repair. Gabriel Barreda helped evacuate U.S. soldiers from Vietnam in 1975 as a corporal in the Marines. Now, at 60 years old, he’s a disabled veteran working a night shift at Walmart to help provide for his wife, Elizabeth. The wages may put some food on the table, but they aren’t enough to repair the couple’s long-time home in Sahuarita, Arizona. Numerous holes existed throughout the walls and ceilings of the Barreda home; mold grew in corners and electrical hazards caused midnight fires.
Habitat for Humanity staff knew that there was a presence of black mold in the house and that our regulations prohibited us from sending volunteers into homes with mold. The staff were fully prepared to tell the family “No” and that we wouldn’t be able to help them. However, after seeing the home and meeting with the family, we knew we had to find a way to help the Barreda family. The incredible need of the family, coupled with their willingness to partner and their community engagement made them a perfect candidate for Habitat’s hand-up philosophy.
Habitat Tucson reached out to community partners to see what, if any options we could help with. And that’s when a wonderful coincidence happened. Terry D at the HabiStore recieved a phone call from an anonymous donor who wanted to donate an almost new manufactured home. The donor knew of Habitat’s work and asked specifically that the home could help a veteran in need. However, the home was located in Arizona City and needed to be transported.
In honor of their 75th Anniversary, BCBSAZ presented Habitat for Humanity Tucson with a grant to assist the non-profit to arrange a “home swap,” a new concept never before attempted by a Habitat affiliate. With this “home swap”, a manufactured home was moved to the location of the current Barreda home. In addition to funding the move of the home from Arizona City to Sahuarita, BCBSAZ covered permitting and enabled Habitat Tucson to move forward with painting, making minor repairs, landscaping, and purchasing furniture from the HabiStore. Because of the presence of black mold; none of the families home furnishings could be safely moved into the new home.
In keeping with Habitat’s philosophy of offering a hand up and partnering with families, the Barreda family have been volunteering sweat equity hours with the nonprofit as well as fulfilling necessary requirements with Habitat Tucson. “A new home means the world to us,” Gabriel said. “It’s an answer to our prayers for a safe home. Thank you.”
Approximately thirty volunteers joined Habitat Tucson to paint the Barreda’s new home a beautiful saltwater-taffy-looking-pink, with white trim (to the delight of the Barreda’s granddaughter). Two local- pastors joined us, Pastor Steve from Grace Point Lutheran led us in prayer at circle up and Pastor Fred from Grace church gave a beautiful Home Blessing during the dedication ceremony later that afternoon. This whole partnership has been exactly that, a partnership between the Barreda family, many members of the Sahuarita community, Long Realty, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, ABC Movers and every facet of Habitat Tucson.
This entire process has been an example of the community coming together to ensure that a wonderful veteran family have a safe, decent home to live in.
Video By: Beyond Video
Photos By: Ryan Mihalyi Photography
In the News:
Habitat for Humanity Tucson offers an innovative solution to the crisis of poverty housing by giving a hand up, not a hand out.
If you know a veteran in need of home repair please contact Habitat for Humanity Tucson at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 520-326-1217.