“This program changed my life”

Neftali, Habitat’s 14th homeowner, has paid off his mortgage! This is a huge accomplishment for him and his family. One of his ESL instructors, who happened to be a Habitat board member at the time, informed him about the program. After attending an annual presentation held for prospective homeowners, he submitted his application, and his family was accepted into our program in 2001.
At the time his family was accepted, they were renting a mobile home with very little space and felt it was not the best place to raise a family. The family consisted of Neftali, his wife Engracia, their 3-year-old Jennifer, and Neftali’s mother, Zenaida. The four of them were sharing the two-bedroom mobile home.
Our program requires each family to complete 500 sweat equity hours and Neftali took advantage of each moment spent on the construction site. He had no experience with construction before Habitat, but he feels that the work he did gave him the confidence to do his own projects on the house. By going through the whole process from foundation to roofing, he received a better understanding of what owning a home means.

"This program gives the opportunity to learn skills of owning a home and how to do own repairs. Gives a better picture of what it takes to build and own a house." 

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~Their home in Kennewick was finished and dedicated in 2002.~

Since moving into the home, Neftali has put up a fence, poured concrete for a driveway, a patio, and built a shed. In the Habitat program, he learned about the regulations, permits, and inspections construction requires and so he felt like he had the courage to undertake these projects on his own. This same courage led him to begin remodeling a vintage car without any prior experience. He learned from watching youtube and has been working on the car for a year.
After his wife passed away, Neftali saw life with a new perspective. Now a single parent of three children, he learned to appreciate the present. He appreciates life and the simple things believing every day is special. Every morning Neftali takes time to go over his thoughts and reflect while watching the birds through his window. In his words, he has become closer to and more involved with the children. He encourages and supports his children to learn to be more responsible and conscious of the benefits of school. School is an investment that all three of his children have devoted themselves to.

“There are no failures. It’s just a learning process that we have to go through.”

His eldest, Jennifer, will be graduating from the University of Washington next year with a degree in Engineering and has completed a 2-year internship with Boeing. Iratze, the next eldest, graduated from high school in 2019 and is attending Washington State University for Veterinarian Studies. The youngest, Uriele, is in middle school. He likes math and wants to be an engineer like his older sister.
Ever the optimist, Neftali believes that everything is a learning experience, a building block to grow from. To Neftali, being accepted into the Habitat program was like “winning the lottery”. It gave him and his family a kickstart and the flexibility to be more financially stable.

"Live day by day taking each one as it comes."

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