Madrid Family

I was ashamed of the house we were living in. When we first moved in, the house had 5 red tags on it, no gas meter and no septic tank.  We lived there for two weeks with no refrigerator, three months with no hot water.  The house had two bedrooms, and unfinished basement and no central heating.  I still wonder how we survived living there for 6 years.  It was unsafe for my children… but the rent was only $350/month. 


It’s hard to describe what it was like living in that sad little house.  For a while, we endured standing sewer water in our backyard.  In the winter, the pipes would freeze and it would get so cold that my shampoo would literally freeze.  On cold nights, we moved all five of our kids upstairs to keep warm by huddling together on the floor of our living room.  The roof leaked, the floor was unstable, and we were always fighting to keep the mice out.  I kept telling myself that we were lucky to have a roof over our heads and that someday it would be better.  I was right!

I’ll never forget the first meeting I attended at the Habitat office. John and I took notes and our hearts filled with hope. We knew at that moment that our lives were about to change.

We broke ground on our Habitat home in April of 1998. I worked on building our house during the week, and on the weekends my husband John, and our oldest son, Justin, would join me.  We loved being able to show our children how things can be accomplished with hard work, as well as how many generous people there are in the world who are willing to help.

A decent place to live – that’s what Habitat tells you you’re going to achieve.  They don’t tell you that you’re also going to get a sense of security… and a feeling that is indescribable.  July 16th, 1999 is the day that I first got that feeling.  That’s the day we moved into our new home.  It’s a beautiful home with four bedrooms, two bathrooms, a fenced yard, and the warmest kitchen I’ve ever been in.  When I come home from work each day and put my key through the lock, it feels just as good as the day I cut the big, red ribbon on our front door and stepped inside.

Today, we’ve lived in our house for 17 years and it’s filled with so many amazing memories. We’ve raised five kids in this home – and every one of them has graduated. Three of our kids have gone on to get married, and we’ve been blessed with 7 grandkids who fill our house with even more love each time they visit.

When you ask what I most appreciate about Habitat for Humanity, I would say it’s that they didn’t just build a house – they built a place that gives my family and me those feelings that can’t be described… security and a sense of self-worth.  Our Habitat home has served as a foundation for everyone – it was the beginning of a whole new era for our family. Thank you!
-Penny & John Madrid