EDINBURG, Texas – Luis and Idalia Zavala came to the Rio Grande Valley with hopes for a better life. They had just started building their dream home in Edinburg when Hurricane Dolly struck. And that same week, Luis lost his job. For more than two years, their family would live in squalor – raising their daughter in a home covered in mold, without a roof.
[caption id="attachment_3237" align="alignleft" width="200" caption="Dr. Albert Reyes, president of Buckner International, presents the keys to the Zavala family's new home. "][/caption]
But thanks to churches in Plano and Gatesville, Texas and Buckner Border Ministries, the family moved into their newly built home Nov. 7. The 768-square-foot house has three bedrooms, one bathroom, a living room and kitchen.
“When I first started visiting the Zavala family, the look of hopelessness was in Idalia’s face every time,” said Ricardo Brambila, coordinator for Buckner Border Ministries. “But when we gave her the news of her new house, she said, ‘God has not forgotten us.’”
Volunteers from First Baptist Church of Plano and First Baptist Church of Gatesville completed the home in a mere seven days. Buckner President Albert Reyes handed the couple the keys to their home in a Nov. 7 ceremony and block party held at the home, telling the Zavala family, “We give you the keys to this home without asking anything in return. We only ask that you bless other people.”
“I thank God and Buckner Border Ministries and all the volunteers for this house,” Luis responded to the crowd of about 100 at the ceremony. Later, he reflected on the family’s turn for the better. “Life was terrible. We had God in our life, but the conditions were terrible. Now that Buckner has been here and God sent His army, these seven days have changed our lives.”
Buckner International serves 400,000 people annually through its domestic and international programs. Last year in the Rio Grande Valley, Buckner served 42,701 people through foster group homes at the Rio Grande Children’s Home, client assistance, Services to At-Risk Youth (STAR) and Buckner Border Ministries.
More than 2,571 people helped to build houses, churches, bath houses and more for some of the neediest families in the Rio Grande Valley colonias last year.