CREST HILL – Despite the rain, people gathered Saturday morning around the 75th Will County Habitat for Humanity house on Nicholson Street in Crest Hill to bless the newest home and the family living inside it.
“We are not going to let the rain dampen our spirits,” Crest Hill Mayor Ray Soliman said. “This is a prime example of all organizations and people working together.”
Habitat for Humanity staff and Lockport Township High School building and trades students who worked on the home were joined by city officials, Habitat co-founders Joe Adler and Bob Stephen, and members of the Susner family, who donated the land, to celebrate with homeowners Francisco and Maria Reyes and their 8-year-old son, Benzi Reyes.
Through tears of joy, Francisco thanked everyone who had a part in making his family’s American dream come true.
“We are very happy and so grateful for what all of you guys did for us,” Francisco said. “We want to say thank you, thank God and God bless you.”
Habitat Director of Family Services Ron Novak gave a brief history of the Reyes family. After living 20 years in California, Francisco met Maria and they moved to the Midwest. Francisco has worked tirelessly at Joliet Junior College to make a good life for his family.
Their home in Joliet for the past three years was a nightmare, with leaky faucets and windows, endless loud music and cockroaches, Novak said.
“Now they have a quiet, safe place to sleep at night; everything that every parent wishes for their children,” Novak said
Nicole Murray, Habitat executive director, presented a Bible to the Reyes family as people gathered on the front porch. Everyone placed a hand on the home’s exterior as Novak read the blessing.
The land where the home was built was donated by the Susner family in memory of the late Donald Susner.
Donald was a builder and property owner in the area, said Jack Susner, Donald’s brother. After Donald died, the family decided to donate the Nicholson Street property to Habit for Humanity.
Lockport Township High School graduates Robby Olson and Michael Franc were in a class that put up the frame and did the rough work on the home. Both are now at Joliet Junior College and came back to see the finished product.
“It’s a good feeling,” Franc said. “It’s nice to do some good.”
While Habitat staff brought cake, treats and drinks, set up in the driveway under tents, inside Francisco and Maria were cooking up red chili and rice and Polish sausage with Mexican bread as a way of saying thank you.
“We wanted to offer something Mexican to eat,” Francisco said. “There are no words, we are so happy.”