Wayland/FBC Habitat home dedicated with new owners

Release Date: June 29, 2009    

By Adam Henthorn, PR intern

PLAINVIEW – Many may remember last fall when the west parking lot of Wayland Baptist University became a construction site, crawling with people all hours of the day and night. On Sunday afternoon, the product of that building blitz was properly christened for its intended purpose as the Wayland Centennial Habitat for Humanity Home was dedicated and its keys handed to its new owners.

“This project started over two years ago,” said Charlotte Schumacher, president of the Plainview Habitat for Humanity board and the organizer of the effort on the WBU campus as Wayland’s Webmaster.

It was the dream of the Centennial Committee to complete a project like this in an effort to give back to the community. They, and many who helped in the house’s construction, thought that it was a project of which university founder Dr. James Wayland would have been proud.

As the process developed, the homeowners were selected to partner with Habitat for the new home. It seemed a perfect fit as Ishmael and Mary Gonzales and their daughters, Benita and Renee, were selected. Both Ishmael and Mary have worked at Wayland for the last several years with Sodexo Campus Services, and both are very grateful for the unique opportunity.

“When everybody that helped put Bible verses in the walls and on the sheetrock, that was the touching moment for us,” said Ishmael. “It meant a lot.”

Mary says that the anticipated move-in date may be pushed back a week so they can spend more time with their family.

“We want to be with family that came from out of town for [the dedication] and our daughter’s birthday.”

While the Gonzales family has had to wait to begin living in their new home, the wait was not as long as might have been expected.

“This is our largest house we have built and the first with more than one bathroom,” said Schumacher of the three-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath house on 28th Street. “As far as I know, it was built in record time.”

The amount of volunteer work and community involvement is to thank for the house’s rapid construction.

“We had over 384 volunteers,” said Schumacher. “First Baptist Church donated $20,000 out of their missions fund.”

Many Wayland students participated in the construction, sacrificing their free time on Saturdays to help out over the past eight months. A handful of church groups from around the city provided everything from labor to snacks and meals.

“Every night the place looked progressively radically different,” remembered WBU senior Zachariah Hawkins of Burkburnett, who, along with Kappa Upsilon Chi and Alpha Delta Kappa, provided evening security at the construction site. 

“[The difference] would be the fast track that we were on during the blitz,” said Larry Williams, one of the two construction foremen on the Habitat House, of the unique project. Williams has been a foreman on four of the five total Habitat homes on the street and greatly enjoys the experience. “Working with the kids, whether in high school or college – that’s really my drawing point to this.”

“We owe our deepest gratitude to our construction foremen, Larry Williams and Gerald Boerger,” said Schumacher during the dedication. Boerger led the dedication ceremony with a responsive reading with those present, with Dr. Travis Hart of First Baptist Church presenting a Bible and giving the closing prayer and Danny Andrews, director of alumni development at WBU, making the presentation of a decorative cross. Schumacher presented the keys to the home to the family in an emotional moment for many present.

Teresa Young, Wayland’s Centennial Vice Chair, helped with the building of the house on the first day of the blitz in October and was there for the dedication. “I think the coolest thing is that on that day in October, we started this whole thing out with prayer when it was just the foundation of the house, and we ended it with prayer today. It’s a very cool thing,” she said.

“I don’t know what else to say,” said Ishmael Gonzales, standing on the front steps of his new home in almost a state of awe, surrounded by family and friends. “It feels really good.”

Each family that qualifies for a Habitat house must fill out a lengthy application. If awarded an opportunity for a house, they must spend a certain amount of time helping in its construction. They make mortgage payments on the house for 20 years with no interest. Appliances for the Gonzales’ house were donated by the Whirlpool corporation, which does the same for each Habitat home nationwide.