Meet some of our Habitat Families:
The Maldonado Family
Noel, a handyman, and Ana Maldonado, a warehouse worker, moved their family to Lawrence in 2010 after losing their jobs in California. Immigrants who fled war-torn Nicaragua in the 1980s, the Maldonados learned about Habitat through their church and decided to apply. In 2012, they became the proud owners of 380 Market Street. “From the beginning, my Mom has been excited and anxious to move in,” said Karla, the eldest daughter. “It’s been her all-time wish to own a house, and we used to wonder if it would be possible. It has been my dream that my mother have a house. If it took me years, I was going to do it. Habitat beat me to it!”
The Nguyen Family
Du and Phuc Nguyen applied for a Habitat home in 1999 and were selected and with their daughter, Thao and son, Hung, they became homeowners in 2000. Coming from Hnatrang, Vietnam, they worked hard to provide for their family and to help their children live a better life here in the United States. The power of owning a home of their own was clear to both Thao and Hung, and they worked hard to achieve their dreams. Because of the support and motivation they received from their parents and Merrimack Valley Habitat for Humanity’s access to homeownership, they have also purchased homes in the nearby area strengthening the community of Methuen alongside their parents.
The Mbiye Family
Holidays are special for the Mbiye family. Tshibamba, his wife Melanie Kabenga Meta, and their seven children gather at their home, a home built with their hands and the hands of many volunteers working in partnership with Merrimack Valley Habitat. For them, it is a special refuge. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire), the Mbiye family had lived a comfortable middle-class life. A pharmacist, businessman, and university instructor, Tshibamba lost all for his political activities and for his friendships. Repeatedly arrested, beaten, imprisoned, and tortured by the security forces of the ruling dictators, he was smuggled to the Ivory Coast in 2001, and then to the United States. Granted political asylum by the US in 2003, he brought his family here in 2004, where they began to work to build a new life and a new home, becoming a Merrimack Valley Habitat homeowner in Market Common. Here the Mbiye family has been an important part of the Habitat family. Working on their home and others, the “many hands of the Mbiyes” were an ever-welcome sight on our Saturday workdays. As settled-in homeowners, they are now part of the larger community in which they live. Lives rebuilt in faith, love, and a helping hand.
The Lopez-Pantoja Family
Like all Habitat families, Miguel and Itzel Lopez-Pantoja live in a house they helped build, with help from scores of Habitat volunteers and donors. But there is something special about their house. The gate in the back fence opens into the garden of another Habitat house, the one Itzel grew up in. Her parents own and still live in one the earliest homes built by Merrimack Valley Habitat.
After they were married, that’s where Itzel, Miguel, and their son, Zuriel, lived with Itzel’s parents. When Habitat began to plan the home that was back-to-back with her parents’ home, Itzel and Miguel were ready for a home of their own. After completing their sweat-equity hours and first-time homeowner classes, they realized what they have often called their “American dream.” Miguel now operates a landscaping and snowplowing service. He helps build Habitat homes that are now under construction alongside friends he made while working on his own. Itzel is working toward a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and plans a career as a math teacher. All of the Habitat community shares in the pleasure of their success.