The Gloria Prudhomme family -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

The Gloria Prudhomme family

Gloria Prudhomme, 44, is a restaurant cashier and the mother of two daughters.

‘God brought me this far’

Gloria Prudhomme’s current housing situation is dicey at best. Her rental house may not be one of the most dilapidated structures in her hardscrabble neighborhood, but it is in obvious need of repair.

Inside, Prudhomme has dealt with a front door that doesn’t lock by nailing a 2-by-4 across the doorframe. She has artfully concealed her homemade security system with a long, flowing drape that covers the entire door.

“We can’t get out,” she said, “but at least nobody can get in.”

Prudhomme, a 44-year-old restaurant cashier and mother of two daughters, will be moving into her new Habitat home after this year’s Carter Work Project.

Having already racked up about 80 hours of sweat equity, Prudhomme has learned basic construction and home repair skills that she plans to put to use in her own home.

“I pass by the site every day,” she said. “It’s just dirt right now, but I’m ready to move. I’m ready to be a homeowner – to live in a house that’s new and fresh, in a nicer neighborhood.”

Prudhomme has lived in Port Arthur all her life. The site of her Habitat house is only a few minutes’ drive away from her rental house, but the difference in the potential quality of her life is clear.

“Now we’re getting somewhere,” she said at the new house site, which has been cleared and staked since she last visited. “I feel a big difference here,” she added, looking up and down the quiet, narrow streets at dusk. Houses are small but well-tended, and yards are lovingly trimmed.

“Nobody’s walking the streets here,” Prudhomme said, getting a little teary-eyed as she alludes to the drug trade that terrorizes her current neighborhood.

Prudhomme has set aside enough money to meet all her financial obligations and get settled in her new house.

“I’m proud of myself for getting that money in the bank,” she said. “It’s a good start to a new life.

“God brought me this far,” she added. “I didn’t get here by myself. And after I’m in my home, I’m going to go help somebody else. I want to help somebody else get their own home.”

Affiliate information:

Beaumont, Texas: Two houses for Carter Project
Located about 30 miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico, Beaumont and surrounding communities suffered a heavy blow from Hurricane Rita in 2005. Habitat for Humanity of Jefferson County, the sixth oldest Habitat affiliate, responded by expanding its area to include Port Arthur and Sabine Pass.

The major employers in this area include oil refining companies, hospitals and the county school district. The median household income is about $32,000.

Before Rita, HFH of Jefferson County built about four houses a year. In 2006, the affiliate built 21; in 2007, 18. Now the goal is to stabilize production at eight to 10 houses a year, according to Uliana Trylowsky, executive director.

Rita completely changed the scope of the affiliate, Trylowsky said, as staff members discovered new programs and methods of attracting more money, more volunteers and more sponsors to the cause of eliminating substandard housing in the area.

“Not that I’d ever want a hurricane,” Trylowsky said, “but God does always provide opportunities out of tragedy. We suffered a terrible blow, but we were able to build from that. It’s amazing.”‘

For this year’s Carter Work Project, the affiliate is building two houses.