Olga Martinez had a plan. Her first step toward improving her life was going to school to become a hairdresser's assistant. Having received her certification, she told herself, "Now the second step: I really want a house. Not just for me, but for my kids. And I know I can do it."

Martinez learned about Habitat through a friend attending her church, who brought her an application to become a homeowner. "He said, 'You probably qualify.'"

Now, Martinez will have family members living in her new neighborhood -- not only did she qualify, her brother and his in-laws qualified as well. Also just three blocks away is the elementary school which her three children, ages 9, 7, and 2, will attend.

Her family's acceptance as Habitat homeowners generated interest in the program among others living in her old neighborhood. "Neighbors were asking me, 'How do I get a house, where can I get an application.'"

Martinez will purchase the house through monthly payments on a no-interest loan. Houston Habitat homeowners are also required to work 300 hours of "sweat equity," as well as attend a series of classes the affiliate conducts. "They tell us how to save electricity, how to save money," she says.

Martinez plans to continue her involvement with Habitat after her house is finished at the end of the week. "Next year," she says, "when someone needs some help, I'm going to be there."

Other Stories from the 1998 JCWP
JCWP Homeowners:
Nancy Rosas

"I'm overwhelmed," says Rosas of her volunteer crew. "There's no way I could ever pay these people back."

More stories:
John and Belvin Richard
Betty and Seff Polk
Wade and Shalina Gibson
JCWP Volunteers:
Joanne and Greg Janson

"I learn 100 little things out here every year," says Greg.

More stories:
Eunita Shields
First Ladies for Habitat
Campus Chapters
Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter
JCWP Behind the Scenes:
Security volunteers

Who are those volunteers wearing the yellow "caution" tape? And what do they do?

More stories:
The Green Team
First Aid
Food Service
Day-By-Day Photo Journal | 1998 JCWP Home Page

JCWP Overviews: 1984-96 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999 | 2000

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