HARLINGEN — There’s no place like home.
George Lawson’s new one on Taylor Street is a shade under 1,000 square feet, with two bedrooms and two baths.
Yet for him, the real treat today was acknowledging the Habitat for Humanity volunteers and partners who contributed time, money and sweat to making what he now calls home.
“People helping people. People say that doesn’t happen today, with all the bad stuff in the news,” Lawson said at the home’s unveiling. “That’s community, that’s family, that’s people helping people, and that’s a good thing.
“I’m truly blessed to have something that I thought I would never have, my own home,” he added. “Thank you God, and thanks to everybody who had a hand in it.”
Wells Fargo Bank and the McAllen Lions Club each contributed $10,000 for the home, and volunteers from Texas State Technical College’s construction program provided the time, building savvy and muscle. The City of Harlingen donated the land.
“We also had an additional 50 individuals who donated building supplies, they donated doors and windows that they purchased online and sent to us,” said Wayne Lowry, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of the Rio Grande Valley.
“This project really is a community effort.”
Lawson moved to the Valley nine years ago from Alabama to be closer to his young son, Brian.
He’s been busy ever since.
He was recently hired as a para-professional with the Harlingen Consolidated Intermediate School District. Prior to that, he was a substitute teacher for the district.
“A very popular substitute teacher,” Lowry added.
“But because of his vision impairment it prevented him from driving,” Lowry said. “So he needed to be in a centralized location to accommodate all the schools he would serve.”
Lowry said Lawson didn’t come to Habitat, Habitat came to him.
“He didn’t even seek this home, we sought him,” Lowry said. “He had volunteered with Habitat on three occasions, and I knew of his situation, and I said you need to apply.
“He said ‘There’s people out there who deserve it more than me.’
“But our committee fell in love with him and the board of directors approved him,” Lowry said. “And then it was a matter of finding the funding.”
Habitat found it in Wells Fargo and the McAllen Lions Club, which makes helping people with visual impairments a priority task.
“The ‘community’ is larger than just our own city,” said Eddie Williams of the McAllen Lions. “We’re lucky to have this opportunity to contribute with Habitat.”
Habitat for Humanity, of course, is the wide-ranging nonprofit group that pulls together resources and volunteers to put deserving people in new or renovated homes at no cost.
Lowry said the RGV Habitat has now completed 11 homes the past fiscal year and is on a pace to complete 15 this year.
“Most people don’t realize all the work that goes into getting to this point,” said Deb Trevino, a board member with Habitat for Humanity of the Rio Grande Valley.
But when the work is finished and the construction dust settles, a family that never thought home ownership was possible can settle in.
“It just gives you goose bumps,” Trevino said.