Habitat for Humanity celebrates 25 years in Fresno

FRESNO, Calif.

Felipe Lemus is a first grade teacher at Calwa Elementary School. He and his wife have four children of their own. Felipe came to the United States as an 11-year-old immigrant from Mexico ... never dreaming he'd own his own home.

But in November of 1996 ... Felipe and his wife Marbella found themselves building their dream ... one beam at a time.

Thanks to Habitat for Humanity ... dozens of volunteers and a lot of their own sweat equity ... the Lemus' became homeowners.

Felipe said, "All the beams in that home have all the signatures and people wishing us good luck without new home and it was really hard to detach from. I knew every little bit of it."

Marbella Lemus said, "Our sweat, our heart and our dreams ... they were placed in this home."

Marbella and Felipe were among the first to build a Habitat home in this Southwest Fresno subdivision called "Crossroads." Fifty three of the eighty one homes in the neighborhood are Habitat homes. Over the last 25 years Fresno's Habitat chapter has enabled 70 families to own a home of their own.

Tony Miranda with Habitat for Humanity said, "We really are working with families that are at income levels that would keep families from going to a bank and getting a traditional mortgage ... so we look at families that are 60 percent of the median income or below ... and right now that's about 25-thousand a year."

With four children now ... Marbella and Felipe Lemus have since moved into another home. Their Habitat home has gone to another deserving family. But they will never forget the 11 years they spent on Habitat Street ... and what it means to have a community help build your home.

Felipe Lemus said, "With Habitat it really opened up the doors to say 'trust people, give to people, serve people.' So it made me more of a servant now."

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