Volunteers raise home for war veteran, family

HARLINGEN — Orlando Lizcano’s face tells many stories.

One is a story about his wife and two sons, another is a story of mentor and coach at Fight Hard Boxing in Edinburg where he lives with his family.

But the hammering which surrounded him yesterday seemed to echo a far away place, of bullets and artillery, of chaos and shouting, and loyalty beyond knowing.

His service in the U.S. Marine Corps — three combat tours — was one of the reasons Habitat for Humanity of the Rio Grande Valley approved his application for a new house.

“I’m thrilled and stoked,” said Lizcano, 30, his strife-bitten face squinting in the sun.

He wore a detailed tattoo of St Michael on his arm.

“It’s for protection,” he said with a stern smile.

“I was in Iraq twice and Afghanistan once,” said Lizcano, a 2005 graduate of Edinburg High School.

Lizcano was putting in some serious sweat equity on his house yesterday along with about 40 H-E-B employees. His thick hands gripped the rake he was using to remove soil from the concrete foundation. H-E-B employees in bright red shirts nailed the wooden frame together. Even their children helped out sweeping white paint across thin trim.

“It’s a beautiful day and we are super excited,” said Yvonne Loflin, public affairs specialist for H-E-B.

Loflin said H-E-B was sponsoring the project as part of its Operation Appreciation program to give back to war veterans in Texas.

“We are honored to do this service,” she said.

The home will provide about 1,200 square feet of living space when it’s completed this summer, said Wayne Lowry, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of the Rio Grande Valley.

“It’s going great,” Lowry said. “Everyone deserves a decent place to live.”

Lizcano’s wife Edith, 26, was equally excited.

“We are looking forward to our future home and living here in Harlingen,” she said.

She and Orlando were both happy about having a new home for themselves and their two sons, one age 10 months and the other 6 years. They’ve been living in tight quarters with his family for some time. His struggles with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder makes it even more stressful.

“I need to have my own privacy,” he said. “I have other family members and I need to be left alone sometimes.”

The hammering slowed. Edith and Orlando stood behind the frame with everyone else and cheered as they raised it toward the sky.