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A home of our own

By Staff | May 12, 2015

Marisol Santiago knows the meaning of sacrifice, having spent recent months living with her mother in Lehigh Acres with her three children while commuting to Cape Coral for her job as a dental hygienist.

But all that work paid off Saturday, as she was given the keys to her new Habitat for Humanity home in Cape Coral during a ceremony, which will bring her closer to work while giving her children the home of their dreams.

“I’m super excited. I can’t wait to move in. I was tired of renting and decided I needed a new home instead of wasting my money on someone else’s mortgage,” Santiago said. “I can’t believe the way the house came out. It’s beautiful.”

Santiago performed more than 300 hours of sweat equity, took home ownership classes, and came up with $1,700 in closing costs to qualify, a nearly year-long odyssey that culminated with a celebration attended by dozens of people, many of them volunteers who put their touches on things.

Santiago was a young mother who worked as a hairdresser. But the work was sporadic so she worked to get a more stable job as a dental assistant.

As she was going through her Habitat journey, she was forced to move back in with her parents to save money to cover the closing costs.

Doris Vargas, Marisol’s mother, had a hand in sacrificing by allowing her family to live with her throughout the Habitat process while putting in some volunteers hours to help.

“She’s worked so hard for this and has gone so far with three kids all by herself. She’s accomplished a lot and I’m proud of her.” Vargas said. “I can’t wait for her to be in it and I’m grateful Habitat gave her the opportunity to pay for her own house.”

Women Build, a group of women who volunteer to work on Habitat homes, had a huge impact, with more than volunteers putting in more than 1,500 hours of scrubbing, cleaning , painting and yardwork to make this home, as well as another in San Carlos Park, sparkle.

Harry Chapin Food Bank donated food, while the family also received the standard small American Flag, Bible and doorknocker.

Volunteers from the Daughters of the American Revolution, perhaps seeing a small flag didn’t suffice, gave the family a larger flag to be put on the hanger nest to the garage.

Marisol thanked everyone for their help, but couldn’t get much more out, as the emotions got the best of her.

Two sons, Lewis, 14, and Tegan, 5, and a daughter, Shamani, 11, will have their own home for the first time, with Shamani having her own room.

Savanna Melton, community outreach specialist, said all the work and sacrifice from so many makes Habitat so special.

“It’s crazy to see all the time these people are willing to give for something like this. To think about how much time she’s going to get with her family, not having to commute five days a week,” Melton said.

“Days like this is why this organization exists because it’s the culmination of hundreds of hours of volunteer work, hard work on behalf of the homeowner and the generosity of the community,” said Becky Sanders-Lucas. “Our site supervisors take their vacation time to spend every day here to supervise the other volunteers.”