■ By Kyle Selby / Reporter
The Hemet/San Jacinto Habitat for Humanity chapter dedicated its 20th home to the Aguirre Family, Saturday morning, Sept. 16.
“You have to be a good family to be able to become a Habitat family,” said Lakshman Koka, Habitat for Humanity Hemet San/Jacinto president. “I wish you all a very happy life,” he said as he passed their 15-year-old daughter, Alana, the keys.
Habitat for Humanity Hemet/San Jacinto is part of a global, nonprofit housing organization operating on Christian principles that builds homes, communities and hope. The Hemet/San Jacinto chapter dedicates their time to eliminating substandard housing locally and worldwide through constructing, rehabilitating and preserving homes; by advocating for fair and just housing policies; and by providing training and access to resources to help families improve their shelter conditions.
Community dignitaries such as Hemet’s Mayor Linda Krupa, Councilwomen Bonnie Wright and Karlee Meyer, San Jacinto’s Mayor Scott Miller and Councilman Russ Utz, Riverside County Third District Supervisor Chuck Washington, and Heather Perry from Sen. Mike Morrell (R-Rancho Cucamonga) office, were in attendance, presenting plaques of recognition to Habitat for Humanity.
“[This] is such a phenomenal organization and group of volunteers that build the houses, but so are the families that move into the homes that put in the sweat equity to qualify for the home,” said Krupa, who worked on Hemet’s first Habitat for Humanity home on Acacia Avenue. The Aguirre house is the eighth house built in Hemet by Habitat.
Grocery Outlet visited the house early Saturday morning and filled the fridge and cupboards with groceries and donated a $100 gift card. Stater Bros., where the family’s father, Frank Aguirre works as a meat clerk, donated a $250 gift card. Walmart, where mother Jessica works, donated pillows, bed comforters and other home furnishings, plus a $125 gift card.
Sweat equity is a strategy Habitat uses to reduce paid labor on the house by letting the future homeowners work on the house themselves. Not only does it help reduce costs, but it empowers families and helps them realize their self-worth. The Aguirres have put in 345 sweat equity hours since they joined the program.
Prior to welcoming everybody into their new home, a dedication ceremony was performed for the family where bread was passed to symbolize prosperity, a candle was lit to symbolize the light of God, and a Bible was passed to represent faith in God.
“I wish that every child can experience this,” said Frank, whose family of five kids lived in a small two-bedroom apartment prior to getting their new home. “My children will never forget this day in their life…this is going to stick with them forever.”
“It really fills my heart with joy,” said Frank’s wife, Jessica. “I’m elated to be moving in here and starting a new chapter in my life with my children and my husband.”
“It’s just something new, and just a blessing to all of us,” said Alana, who was in fifth grade when her family was selected by Habitat. Now she is in 10th grade. “One of the lessons that [God] taught me is that time is one of the most precious things.”
Responsible for making the Aguirres’ dreams come true were President Lakshman Koka, Vice President Lorena De La Huerta, John Randall, Karen Chum, Michelle Kaliher, Dr. Vincent Record, Hitesh Patel, Karena Zermeno, and Administrative Coordinator Patsy Ann Svete.