Fresno's Habitat for Humanity executive director leaving

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A man who has helped build homes for dozens of Fresno families will be moving on in just a few days. But Fresno's Habitat for Humanity executive director will continue his mission, just a few hundred miles to the south.

As Tony Miranda takes one last walk in the Crossroads Neighborhood in Southwest Fresno, he stops to chat with those he calls friends, those he's helped own their first home.

Larry Kong remembers the move into his first home in this neighborhood. He said, "Well, when I got the house, there was nothing for me to describe. All my family was so excited!"

That was 12 years ago. He credits Tony with giving him hope of home ownership and teaching him a little of the construction trade. Habitat for Humanity requires its potential homeowners to put in several hundred hours of what they call "sweat equity" -- actually swinging hammers and pounding nails.

Kong said, "He's a great guy. He's so friendly. He focuses on the job."

Tony Miranda arrived from Colorado in the summer of 1997. He knew nothing about Fresno, nothing about construction and very little about Habitat for Humanity.

Tony recalled, "I came here and found a place where I was cared for and that I could care for others in a way that was meaningful to me."

His volunteer summer job turned into a full-time career as Fresno's first paid executive director. Habitat for Humanity International recognizes the value in his leadership, saying, "The work Tony has done to help revitalize neighborhoods in Fresno, whether by building homes with partner families, partnering with local schools to offer reading programs, hosting community meetings or overseeing community-built gardens has helped transform them into places that our homeowners are proud to call home."

Tony explained why he stayed 17 years. He said, "You have the opportunity to provide support in good and important ways but to actually be connected to people, to work alongside them, have a snack with them and get to know their children, and that's part of what's kept me here."

Tony begins a new chapter with Habitat next month as the executive director of the Golden Empire region in Kern County.

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