Giving Back by Paying It Forward

By Lauren Hollon Sturdy
Buckner International


The Aguilar family’s story is a common one in the colonias of the Rio Grande Valley: poverty, struggle and the hardships of life stacking up little by little.

The entire roof of their trailer leaked. The wood they had used to replace the sheetrock on the ceiling was sagging and full of mold. The family of six slept on two mattresses on the floor.

Arturo Aguilar worked a steady job in concrete, but he was barely earning enough to get by with their payments. He couldn’t afford safer living conditions for his family and didn’t see how things could ever change.

But things did change. When the staff of Buckner’s Community Transformation Center (CTC) in Peñitas, Texas, started getting to know the Aguilars last summer, they learned about the family’s unsafe housing conditions and made a plan.

Last December, the Aguilars received a brand-new home through Buckner, thanks to our generous donors. Volunteers from Faith Family Fellowship in Flagler, Colo., and Sanctuary Church in Sugarland, Texas, worked to build the new house over the Christmas holidays.

With their basic needs met in the security of a new home, the Aguilar family has set their sights on transformation. Arturo and Blanca are in the early stages of intensive case management and they are committed to work toward making long-term changes in their lives and the lives of their four sons, Arturo Jr., Santiago, Adrian and Alejandro. The Aguilars and their case manager have created a family action plan with short-term and long-term goals that they will work together to achieve.

Today, the family has already met several of their goals. First, they wanted to give back to Buckner by volunteering. Arturo has installed new door knobs at the CTC and worked with a friend to assemble desks and chairs for Buckner interns. Blanca has volunteered her time to help the CTC staff hand out flyers for upcoming events and classes.

Another goal the family met was to keep their property clean. They have removed their old trailer from the lot where their new home now stands, and Blanca has kept their new home in pristine condition – not an easy task with four boys under age 8.

One of Blanca’s personal goals is to let her new home be a blessing to others in the community of Peñitas. As a first step, Blanca will be taking a young mother under her wing and teaching her how to cook. She also plans to teach this young mother how to maintain a clean and orderly home.

Through the gift of a new home, this family’s transformation was set in motion. As the Aguilars “pay it forward” by giving back to the CTC and their neighborhood, Buckner looks forward to seeing this family take the lead in a community-wide transformation.

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