Peñitas, Texas can be a desolate place. Jaime and Maria Garcia know it all too well. It’s dry. Hot. Even lonely. Couples and families here are tested daily under the pressure of poverty and isolation.

That’s why the outpouring of God’s blessings has been so unexpected, and overwhelming to Jaime: “We can say that here is where the doors of heaven were opened.” 

Those doors led Maria into the local Buckner Family Hope Center. And a lot of work that would pay off in ways that fulfilled the family’s wildest dreams. 

“First I went to the Hope Center because I really like everything that has to do with crafts,” Maria said. “They told me they would teach me how to make ribbons. They would teach me how to sew. They would teach me how to do crafts. I liked that a lot. It gave me something to do. Then they told me about other benefits that the center offered.” 

Maria took every class she could, including Faith and Finances, Jobs for Life, Wonderful Mothers, crafts, Coffee of Love, bows, Bible studies and sewing. She listened intently during each class, soaking up every lesson, learning new skills and putting them into practice. It wasn’t easy, but Maria had a thirst for knowledge and was enjoying gathering with her neighbors. 

“I took classes every day. During the next semester, I took classes and helped with child care. But then I had a car accident. I’ve always been the type that when I commit to something, I like to fulfill it. Well, I continued to get in my car. I said to my husband, ‘Even if I have to go in through the other side of the car, I have to go.’ I had to fulfill my responsibility.” 

She also sensed her life was changing, little by little, day by day over the course of a year. Her spending habits began to shift. The family saved more money. She interacted with her family differently. As a result, the family was different. It was healthier. Life was better. 

“Before going to the center I think I would describe myself as a mother with very little patience. I would say I was a mom who did not have a limit on what I had to spend, a mom who felt frustrated,” Maria admitted.

“But after going to the center, it brought a big change in me. Because apart from teaching you the things of God, they teach you that you can do many things for yourself and you can be useful in many areas. And as a mother, they teach you how to deal with your children so that you can have control over yourself to be able to better lead them. They also teach you how to administer your finances. And how not to waste your money so that you can manage your payments so that you do not have to be struggle with late payments you have in your home.” 

Maria isn’t the only family member who has worked hard at the Family Hope Center. Jaime took the 24/7 Fatherhood class on top of his long hours as a welder. 

“You are not just a dad the short time you are at home,” Jaime said. “The simple truth is, when I feel very tired at work, when I see a danger in my work, I think a lot about my wife and my children. Sometimes I send her a text. Or when I come home, I say, ‘I love you very much.’” 

As the couple took classes and volunteered at Buckner events that benefited their community, they earned points they could use at various times throughout the year at Hope Center markets that offered a variety of items. The Garcias’ hard work even earned them enough points to qualify for a home through Buckner Missions. 

“We have made plans for that house,” he said. “The house of our dreams. The house that is for the family. And she earned it. I always say, she earned it. She was the one that gave 100 percent effort. And we were her complement; we were the ones that supported her, that pushed her. We never told her no. I would not have made enough money to build that house. She was the one with the effort. And still, when I go to work on the house, she comes to work too. So getting here, it’s a great blessing.” 

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