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The transformative power of building a house (part 2) -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

The transformative power of building a house (part 2)

Maricella and her two children, Gabriel and Lindsay, signed the walls of their new house as they were being erected


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‘It’s not scary anymore’

When Maricella’s mother suggested she apply for her own house with Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona, she hesitated. She wasn’t sure she could run a household.

“I was very dependent on Isaiah,” Maricella said. “He did all the handiwork, the landscaping. I didn’t know how to do all that. After he died, it was just overwhelming.”

Ultimately, though, Maricella wanted a place her children could call home. And so, she began getting up at 5 a.m. on Saturdays to hang drywall and frame windows on their future home.

The process was transformative.

“It’s really empowering,” she said. “This was honestly the best way to learn how to become a single mom. I’m not scared. I am the head of household now whether I like it or not, but it’s not scary anymore.”

On the day her house was dedicated and she received the keys, Maricella remembered thinking, “Here I thought everything was lost, everything was gone. I was never going to feel joy again; I was never going to feel like I could run my house again. And now here I am. I can, and I did.”

After moving in, Maricella ripped up part of the floor and replaced it with tile — all by herself.

“I feel like I can do anything,” she said. “I can build anything. I can use all Isaiah’s power tools now.”

Inspiring others

That positive spirit landed Maricella a new job — with Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona.

Paul Murphy, the affiliate’s director of construction, hired her after watching her work on her future home.

“She was so good with the people, and such a little sparkplug, and always bright and always cheerful,” he recalled. “Everybody just loved working with her.”

Among her admirers is longtime volunteer Joe Genovese, who said Maricella’s infectious energy makes her the perfect coordinator of volunteer and community support.

“You can’t help but love her,” he said. “She is the one who will call you and say, ‘I think it’s wonderful that your church is coming with 10 people. We could use five more. And by the way, are you bringing lunch? These guys get awfully hungry around 10:30 in the morning.’

“In a very comfortable and professional and respectful way, she is a tremendous motivator.”

Future homeowners love her, too.

“She was just one of those individuals who, if you had a bad day, her smile and her energy would just uplift you,” said Michelle Aguayo, who moved into her home last fall.

Maricella has taught her not to take anything for granted.

“For a woman to go through that tragedy,” Michelle said, her voice breaking, “and to see where she’s at today and those lives that she touches is very inspiring.”

Next: ‘One of the most blessed’
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