Habitat for Humanity recipient wants to help local children


Rachel Tuggle


STEPHENVILLE (January 30, 2016) – The Erath County Habitat for Humanity will soon be recruiting volunteers for its latest home building project.

Since the groundbreaking ceremony in January, the organization has been hard at work preparing for the construction of Stephenville native Diana Valdez’s new house. If all goes according to plan, the mother of one and business owner will be moving in at the end of 2016.

Valdez graduated from Stephenville High School in 2008 and attended beauty school. She worked at a few different beauty salons cutting hair until she opened up her own salon, Image, two years ago. It was through this business that Valdez first heard of Habitat for Humanity.

“When I opened my business, I was applying for a USDA loan” Valdez said. “One of my customers mentioned to me about Habitat. I had heard of it, but I thought the house was given to you. I thought it was for people that were really poor and pretty much homeless. He explained it to me a little bit and told me that you have to make a certain amount of money, and they sell you the house.”

Valdez applied, but did not believe that she would qualify because she had just opened Image and did not think she earned enough money.

“Thank God, I got qualified in May two years ago,” Valdez said. “I wanted a future for my son. I am looking forward mostly for my son. You know and something that’s going to be called home, something that’s going to be mine. It’s a house where there’s going to be memories for us.”

As part of the process, Valdez will work for 300 hours total, half of which can come from family and friends volunteering. The first 80 “sweat equity” hours were spent working on another home or doing other service activities on behalf of Habitat for Humanity, and the last 220 will be spent working on Valdez’s new home.

“As we move forward, we will be looking for the next family,” Erath County Habitat for Humanity president Lori Hurford said.

Currently, Valdez is finishing up her associates degree. She hopes to then attend Tarleton, earn a degree in journalism and continue to expand her business.

“I would like to have a foundation [for children] one day,” Valdez said. “Not like a foster home. A home where they’re not moving around from foster house to foster house. With our society right now, how it is, it’s hard. I would like to help teenagers to get active, to get busy and help others instead of being out there in the streets.”

Timber Ridge Church donated the property that Valdez’s house will be built upon.

“They’ve been really helpful,” Erath County Habitat for Humanity executive director Dr. Charles Rives said.

This week the slab is expected to be poured so that the framework can be put up and volunteers can begin helping. Contrary to popular belief, a Habitat for Humanity house is not built solely by ordinary volunteers. Professional construction crews donate their time to lay the foundation for the work that can then be completed by others.

“We are kind of at an in-between stage right now,” Rives said.

Rives expects volunteers to be needed at the end of February. They will only work on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to around 3 p.m. If you’d like to volunteer, contact Rives at rives@tarleton.edu or if you would like to apply for a Habitat for Humanity house, contact 1st Methodist Church or Lori Hurford at hurfordlh@embarqmail.com.

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