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Family copes after tornado damages Habitat home -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

Family copes after tornado damages Habitat home

By Bill Sanders


Irma Mojica cries as she talks about the night a tornado struck her Habitat home. Photos for Habitat for Humanity International by Ezra Millstein.


Antonio Mojica assesses the state of his master bedroom following the storm. Photos for Habitat for Humanity International by Ezra Millstein.


The Mojicas have made improvements to their Habitat home during the 10 years they’ve lived in it, including adding stone siding. The storm clearly did some damage to the home’s roof. Photos for Habitat for Humanity International by Ezra Millstein.


Marco Mojica might never have gone to college and become an engineer had it not been for his Habitat for Humanity home in Granbury, Texas.

Ten years ago, when he was 15 and his sister Jesica was 19, they shared a room that was too small for even one of them. The kitchen in their family’s rented, three-room duplex was so tiny, only two could sit at the table because the other side butted against the wall. It was not a good place to study, or even live.

In fact, just before the Mojica family moved into Habitat for Humanity’s 50,000th U.S. home in 2003, they learned the duplex had been condemned and would be demolished.

No one could argue with the decision.

Now Marco’s parents are waiting to see if their home of 10 years can be salvaged. The tornado that ripped through the Rancho Brazos neighborhood on May 15 hit their three-bedroom home hard.

Shattered window panes littered the interior of the house, but the structure appeared sound. And though the outside of the house showed visible damage, it, too, was mostly intact.

“We’re waiting to hear from the insurance company,” said Marco, who has become the spokesman for the family. His parents, Antonio and Irma, speak little English. The three of them toured the house the Saturday after the storm, mostly in silence. Irma cried, then composed herself, then cried some more.

This is a great family’

Regardless of what happens with this house, the impact it has made on Marco is profound.

“It made all the difference,” he said. “Everything was because of Habitat, and we were all very thankful.”

Marco, Jesica, his oldest sister, Xochitl, now 30, and his mom all moved from Mexico’s western state of Jalisco in early 2003. Antonio was already in Granbury — he had been traveling back and forth from Texas to Mexico for a few years, trying to make a way for his family while working construction.

The Mojicas learned about Habitat through a flier at church.

Sallye Vela, a board member at Habitat for Humanity of Hood County, helped the family through the home-buying process and has watched them blossom over the years.

Vela said that the Mojicas not only maintained their house, they improved it.

“That doesn’t happen often,” Vela said. “Usually, homeowners maintain their home. The Mojicas, little by little, made improvements on the exterior, with stone siding, and in the back yard, with a concrete barbecue area.”

Meanwhile, their children thrived.

Marco graduated from Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas, in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in manufacturing engineering technology. He went to work for Weber Aircraft, a company that manufactures airline seats, and has plans to go back to school in the fall to earn a master’s degree.

Jesica earned an associate’s degree from Weatherford College in Texas and started a family. Xochitl attended the same college and also has a family of her own.

Antonio has become a U.S. citizen and now works in the Granbury school district as a maintenance man. The job provides a steady paycheck and health insurance for his family.

“We’re very proud,” said Irma, who cleans houses for extra income.

“Antonio and Irma work a lot, so they can’t be volunteering with us all the time,” Vela said. “But even now, when they can, they come out to a site and volunteer. This is a great family.”

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