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The transformative power of building a house (part 3) -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

The transformative power of building a house (part 3)

‘One of the most blessed’


Maricella suffered a life-threatening accident in January, but friends and co-workers say her positive attitude still shines.

Maricella’s spirit was tested again in January.

Her car blew a tire on a road trip, and in the aftermath, her seatbelt tore. She awoke three days later with 14 broken ribs, a broken left shoulder and hand, a punctured lung and a lacerated liver. Her lower lumbar had been crushed, the left side of her face destroyed.

Doctors told her she might never walk again and might lose her left eye.

But within four months, she was back at work part time. She can walk, and she can see. And though she is still in pain and needs more reconstructive surgery, she is grateful.

“I am, seriously, probably one of the most blessed people in the world,” she said.

Maricella likes to joke that she had the accident to test whether Habitat’s affordable housing is truly affordable. She has found that it is. Even on disability, she can pay her bills.

That security means everything to her children.

Gabriel was only 5 when the family lost their first house.

“He said, ‘Mom, when I grow up, I’m going to own a bank so people never have to leave their houses.’ And I said, ‘Son, now we never have to leave our house. We’re always going to be able to afford this house.’

For Lindsay, now 15, that security means that instead of getting a part-time job to help her mom pay bills, she can pursue her dream of being the first in the family to graduate from college.

“She can focus on her goals,” Maricella said.

The power of perseverance

Genovese dropped by Maricella’s house shortly after she got out of the hospital and found her as cheerful as ever.

“To come out the back end still with a positive attitude, with nothing but good things to say about the experience — can you imagine?” he asked. “I said to her, ‘You have to promise me that you will continue to tell your story.’

“What you teach people is perseverance and fortitude.”

Since the death of her husband, Maricella said, she believes the purpose of her life is to serve and inspire.

“I tell people, ‘I have twice the house for half the mortgage. I am fatter than I’ve ever been. So, clearly, God is taking care of me. Clearly. How can I inspire you to really, really make lemonade out of those lemons?’ ”

Feeling sorry for herself doesn’t seem to be in Maricella’s DNA.

“I tried crying. I tried throwing a fit. I tried saying ‘I can’t,’ ” she said. “And it doesn’t work. It doesn’t change what happened to you.

“Quitting is not an option. Giving up is not an option.”

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