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5 years later: Roanoke family home for the holidays thanks to hard work, volunteers

‘This house is here because people were willing to help’

ROANOKE, Va. – A lot has changed in the Garcia household in the last five years. Thanks to hard work, determination and volunteers, the Garcia family is enjoying the holidays in their very own home once again.

Over the years, Veronica Garcia’s three kids have grown up. She got a new job and the family got a dog named Gracie. Garcia’s house on Rorer Avenue in Roanoke has seen all the changes. But not long ago, her home was just an empty lot and a dream.

“I was homeless at one point ... I was living in a low-income apartment building, which ... it was a house. It was a place to live, but it wasn’t home,” Garcia said.

Veronica and her kids moved to Roanoke from California in 2011 to escape domestic violence.

“Just seeing my kids, I wanted to give them a better future,” Garcia said.

She kept working and saving up, knowing she wanted a Habitat for Humanity home one day. Finally, in December 2014, that dream became a reality.

“I was ecstatic. I was so happy," Garcia said.

The build took more than 140 volunteers and 2,500 hours. Crews finished the build in 12 days. Among the crew members were WSLS employees.

“It was a marathon and it was a lot of fun too," said Karen Mason, the executive director of Habitat for Humanity of the Roanoke Valley. "The WSLS team came out and helped build and slogged through the mud and all that.”

Since 1986, the nonprofit has built just under 250 homes in the Roanoke Valley, including the Garcia family’s home.

“It’s great to see the changes in the family and the stability and the success that they experience,” Mason said. “Once they have decent, affordable housing and achieve that goal, there’s no stopping them."

Even after five years, the Garcia family is still just as grateful as the day they received the keys to their new home.

“You cannot live in a Habitat house and not be grateful every day and think about all the people that were in your life and in your house at some point,” Garcia said. “Every time you wake up, even if you just look up at the ceiling, you know, ‘Oh, somebody did that. Somebody put this window, somebody nailed this door here.' So, it is, it is emotional. It’s like every day you know this house is here because of people that were willing to help.”

Garcia said she’s grateful for those people who helped her build a home, build memories and build a new life.


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