Gregory and Woodsboro residents move into newly rebuilt homes
Two families in the Coastal Bend moved into their brand new, rebuilt homes thanks to a group of partnering disaster recovery organizations. United Methodist Committee on Relief – Rio Texas Conference (UMCOR), Coastal Bend Disaster Recovery Group (CBDRG), Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS), Golden Crescent Habitat for Humanity, Samaritan’s Purse and Cheniere Energy all played a part in making the events possible. Both families celebrated the day with home dedication ceremonies where CBDRG and UMCOR presented keys to their new owners.
The first home dedication ceremony, held in Gregory, Texas, was for Delia Rios. Rios was a survivor of Hurricane Celia in 1970. She’s lived in the area all her life. Her eldest child was nine years old when the family moved into the original house and her other two children were born while living there. Before Rios and her family made their house a home, it was known as the building for the telephone company; there was even a movie shot in there. When Hurricane Harvey made landfall, Rios stayed with her daughter in Corpus Christi. The storm completely destroyed her beloved home and she had been living with her daughter until now, when she received the keys for her newly built home. “I want to thank everybody from the bottom of my heart,” shared Rios. “I’ve lived here for more than 38 years. I’ve been in this community for a long time. I’ve got a lot of friends here and I’m very happy to be back and close to my mom.”
Rios’ home was funded through a grant CBDRG received from Cheniere Energy and majority of the construction was performed by MDS volunteers. The interior of the home was completed by various volunteer groups including five faith-based groups and volunteers from Gulf Coast Growth Ventures. Rios’ case was managed by UMCOR and Samaritan’s Purse provided some furniture for the new home. It is the 7th home CBDRG and their partners have completed in Gregory and they’ve also completed 11 repair projects.
The second home dedication ceremony was in Woodsboro, Texas. Paulina Wilson, her daughter Brenda Holst, and her two grandchildren, Alyssa and Allen, received the keys to their home presented by Golden Crescent Habitat for Humanity. CBDRG was able to provide funding for the home through their partnership with Samaritan’s Purse and UMCOR provided case management. MDS and Christian Public Service jointly worked on construction of the home and local church volunteers completed the interior.
Holst, her mother and her children left Woodsboro to stay with her sister in Refugio, fearing that her childhood home wouldn’t survive the hurricane. The storm busted a kitchen window as it blew through Refugio and the family made refuge in the windowless hallway. Upon returning to Woodsboro, it was evident that they would no longer be able to live in their existing home. Their case manager, Zelina Rittiman, met the family in January of 2018 and did everything she could to make sure they would get back to a safe, secure and sanitary home. “When I met them, it was really difficult to hear their story,” said Rittiman. “They had lived here all their lives and they were watching their house fall to pieces in front of them. I was motivated and passionate about helping them. After many obstacles here we are today. It’s a true blessing and honor to stand on these steps today and to walk through their doorway and be part of the journey with them.”
These two homes represent the 34th and 35th homes rebuilt by CBDRG and their partners since Hurricane Harvey. “Each of these homes are the result of successful collaboration and finding one common objective, help families recover from Hurricane Harvey,” said Warren Phipps, executive director of CBDRG. “We are here to help people in our community and we couldn’t do this without any of our partnerships.”
CBDRG, in partnership with several other non-profits, has completed 156 major home reconstruction projects thus far and is continuing to work on another 50 on-going projects. All of this is possible thanks to the generous donors and hardworking volunteers. CBDRG continues to seek volunteers who range from skilled-laborers to general help. To learn more about the CBDRG and to fill open volunteer positions, visit www.coastalbenddrg.org/volunteer.