The Maria Gonzales family -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

The Maria Gonzales family

A home for mom, sister

In 1997, Maria Gonzales left the Philippines with her mother, Antoinette Celzo, and her two sisters. Her grandparents petitioned to have the family join them in the United States, along with her three younger daughters.

Although she is the youngest of the Gonzales children, Maria approached Habitat for Humanity about the possibility of purchasing a home for herself, her mother, her sister Sherelane Gonzales and Sherelane’s daughter, Gabriella Mae Gonzales.

When she was approved, she immediately told Sherelane and Gabriella.

“I haven’t told my mother yet,” she said. “I want to wait until the house is right in front of me, until I have out some effort into making this house real for me and my family.”

Gabriella is already dreaming of her own room in the new house, and Sherelane is eager for the privacy a new home will give them.

Gonzales and her family now live with her uncle. Gonzales has a very small room of her own, and her mother, sister and niece share a room.

“It’s a tough situation,” she said. “My uncle is going to be married soon, and we will need to find another place to live.”

Maria works in Columbia as a computer assembler. She makes enough money to rent an apartment of her own, “but I couldn’t be selfish like that and just move out. I want to help my family.”

She suspects that in a few more years her mother will want to return to the Philippines. “By then, we will be able to give her happiness. And it will be more important for us to be independent and have our own place.”

Perhaps Maria learned to be so self-motivated when she played volleyball in high school. These days she plays every Friday at a volleyball center in Elkridge. “It’s a great way to have fun and meet new people,” she said. “You get to play with different people of all ages.”