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United States: Seeing a Difference -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

United States: Seeing a Difference


Betty Monroy


Betty Monroy was working three jobs to afford the rent in Downey, Calif.. She was determined to stay in the Los Angeles County city so that two of her children, diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, could remain in a school with a highly rated special education program. But even with her multiple jobs, the housing she could afford suffered from termites and mold.

Then she partnered with Habitat Greater Los Angeles. And as the mother of three began to help build her Habitat home, she saw more than a house grow before her eyes.

“When we were building the house, my oldest son was the only one old enough to build,” she says. “He’s the one that has the most problems with social skills, and when we first started coming, there were all these volunteers. They all wanted to say hi to him, and that was like torture. He would just avoid the volunteers at all costs.

“As time went by and he started getting invested in it, he changed and started accepting people talking to him. Not only that, but he would guide them on tours of the house and show off the things he’d been building. Toward the end, he was very talkative and very proud of his house. He’s really come out of his shell quite a bit.

“Whenever there’s an opportunity to build, I try to take him,” she continues. “He understands about paying it forward, and he enjoys it, and he goes and builds.”

Betty’s Habitat house is built to gold-level LEED standards for energy efficiency. The savings mean she can once again afford to offer her kids fresh fruits and vegetables, a luxury she had foregone in the old house.

“Every day is a blessing, and every day we thank God, thanks to Habitat,” she says. “It’s an amazing thing.”