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‘Are you going to make a difference?’ (part 2) -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

‘Are you going to make a difference?’ (part 2)


Pedro Garcia de la Cruz and daughter, Melisa, live in a new Habitat house close to his younger sister and niece, who help take care of Melisa while he works. ©Habitat for Humanity Guatemala/Jamil Barton


Irving and Lois Hall at the 2004 Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project in Mexico. ©Habitat for Humanity/William Neumann


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Pedro Garcia de la Cruz, a single father, recently moved into a Guatemala Dream Project house with his 4-year-old daughter, Melisa. Before that, they had been living in one dark, moldy room in an old adobe house. “Thank you so much for the true assistance you are giving people with economic difficulties,” he said. “It is wonderful that you are giving to others.” Asked what she likes best about her new home with her own bedroom, Melisa said, “Watching TV.”

Hall had planned to attend the dedication of the 500th Dream Project house, but his doctor diagnosed a heart condition and told him not to travel.

“Irv is humble to the extreme,” said Sharon Petrie, national director for Habitat for Humanity Mozambique, who was with the Halls on that first Guatemala trip in 2005 in the wake of Hurricane Stan.

“At the start of every build day, he leads everyone in a chorus of ‘This Is the Day That the Lord Has Made.’ He and Lois are low-key and do what needs to be done. There’s no special treatment. In fact, they would hate special treatment.”

Richard Koenig, a friend of the Halls who has built alongside them often, recalls Irv’s energy level in 2008, when he was 75.

“I had been with Irv a few times before on builds, and he always put me to shame,” Koenig said. “We were in Zacapa in the boiling hot sun. Despite the crazy heat, Irv was always the last to leave our site, except for the masons. Lois was begging him constantly to take breaks and to take it easy, but once Irv gets going, there’s really very little that will stop him working. He’ll take a little water, but apart from that he’s a dynamo of perpetual movement.”


Haydeen and Cristian Ruano had been living in an apartment that was so cold that Haydeen, pregnant with their first child, kept getting sick. They tried living with her parents, but there wasn’t enough space. Finally they applied for and moved into a Habitat Guatemala Dream Project house with two bedrooms, a kitchen and a living room. “It’s ours,” Haydeen said. “We can do what we want, and no one will be able to tell us to leave.”

Knowing that he’s helped make a difference in the lives of the Ruanos and others is why Hall continues to build.

“We have been blessed to be able to do that,” Hall said. “At the end of the day you have to ask yourself: Did I make any difference today?

And when you come to the end of your life, you can ask: Did I make a difference? You have to give it your best shot.”