Family to get home built through kindness of strangers

dyawger@mercedsunstar.comAugust 4, 2013 

New soon-to-be homeowner Aurora Andrade gets a hug from Habitat for Humanity construction chair Lyle Allen at her near completion South Merced home Tuesday. (7-30-13)

BEA AHBECK CASSON — bahbeck@mercedsunstar.com Buy Photo

— Later this month, a single mother and her two sons will move into a brand-new home built by the Merced chapter of Habitat for Humanity.

It's the 13th home the all-volunteer group has built in its 19 years of existence.

The 1,050-square-foot home on South T Street in south Merced will be turned over to Aurora Andrade and her sons, Angel and Mark, at an Aug. 24 dedication ceremony.

Andrade spent more than 450 hours helping build the home in a project that has taken about 18 months.

The international organization has built about 1 million homes worldwide.

Jan Sorge, vice president of the Habitat for Humanity board, said it's great to be able to help people realize their dream of owning a new home.

"It's such a joy to see that happen," Sorge said. "We're all volunteers here."

Andrade, a customer service employee with Merced Medical Supply, has been living in a small two-bedroom rental house. A friend gave her a flier about the Habitat for Humanity program, and she filled out an application.

"I'm excited, happy to get here," Andrade said. "When I found out we were selected, I cried."

Angel, 13, will go to El Capitan High School this fall. His brother Mark, 9, will attend Margaret Sheehy Elementary School. They agreed their new home is "pretty nice," and they are glad they won't have to share a bedroom.

Habitat for Humanity volunteers work Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon on home construction. When the T Street home is done, they plan on taking about six weeks off before starting the next project on West 8th Street.

Lyle Allen of Merced is the construction chairman. He said a group of volunteers called the "old guys" have considerable skills.

Larry Sorge, a retired handyman, said the volunteer construction workers all are senior citizens and each has a special talent. His specialty is finished carpentry.

Jeff Stopper, branch manager for Big Creek Lumber Co. at the Castle Commerce Center, said there are few organizations like Habitat for Humanity in Merced County.

His company donated $3,000 in tools and hardware for the T Street home.

Jason Mahy, Sherwin-Williams store manager in Merced, said his company donated 60 gallons of paint for the house. Mahy praised Habitat for Humanity for helping so many families.

Jan Sorge said the owners of Habitat for Humanity homes make house payments of about $500 to $550 a month, through no-interest loans. The future homeowners are required to put in 500 hours of sweat equity during the construction of their homes.

"It's been a godsend to these people," she said.

Reporter Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or dyawger@mercedsunstar. com.

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