B/CS Habitat for Humanity celebrated its 25th anniversary with a special ceremony in September. The event served as an opportunity to reflect on the last 25 years, the nearly 250 homes built, the wonderful families who live in them and the tremendous community support that has made it all possible.

DSC_0157Volunteers and donors were honored, along with Habitat homeowners who have paid off their mortgages. Highlighting the evening were presentations from the first and second Habitat homeowners in B/CS and a special address from Texas A&M Women’s Basketball Coach Gary Blair.

The evening kicked off and culminated with jazz music from the Greg Tivis Trio and hors d’oeuvres and dessert. The meet and greet and reception gave time for Habitat volunteers, donors, supporters and families to visit, reconnect and look at photos from the last 25 years.

Dr. L.A. Love, who up in a Habitat home in Bryan and graduated from Bryan High School before going to college and eventually earning a doctorate, emceed the event. He is now the Assistant Director for Athletic Academic and Support Services at Texas Tech University, but he flew in from Lubbock to be here for the occasion.

DSC_4405-editHis parents were one of 13 Habitat homeowners who were honored for paying off their mortgages. The homeowners were recognized on stage and given flowers to mark their incredible achievement.

Victor and Amelia Gonzalez, honored for paying off their mortgage, also made a special presentation. They were the first family to build a Habitat home in B/CS. Victor reminisced that he didn’t really know what they were getting into when they applied to build the first local Habitat house back in 1989. They were living in a dilapidated trailer with holes and no heat. Victor, who was struggling with the onset of diabetes at the time, remembers the water in their toilet freezing during a cold winter. But life improved for the young family when they moved into their Habitat home in 1990.

“That home has taught me a lot about responsibility,” Victor said. “We never missed a mortgage payment and I learned to set some money aside for a rainy day.” Victor and Amelia raised their five sons in the safety and DSC_9930stability of that house and joked that they had to replace a lot of broken windows because their boys liked baseball.

Victor then spoke about the role Jim Davis played in his family, not only as a member of Habitat, but as a spiritual mentor, who invited him to church and helped him grow spiritually. Victor presented Jim with a special award in recognition of his many years of service to Habitat and Habitat families, both as a volunteer and staff member.

“It’s hard to describe the incredible impact Jim Davis has had in my life and for hundreds of families in B/CS,” Victor said. “He deserves a lot more thanks than we can give him.”

Janice Kelley, the second Habitat homeowner and the first in College Station, took the stage after Victor and DSC_4502-editAmelia and talked about her experience as a Habitat homeowner.

“I had been a teenage mother and our home provided the foundation for me to focus on raising my kids well,” Janice said. “I’m proud to say that all my kids made it through school and none of them became teenage parents.”

Her youngest graduated from Texas Christian University and works at Twin City Mission. And now Janice is about to become a college graduate herself. She’ll complete her degree at Sam Houston State University in December and plans to work with teenage parents to help them stay on the right path.

Janice then honored Trish Burk, one of the founders of Habitat in B/CS and the first executive director.

DSC_9900 edit“When I think of Habitat, I think of Trish,” Janice said. “Trish was one of the first people I met when I got involved with Habitat. She was very nurturing and supportive of me and my family and has continued to be throughout the years. She always had a smile on her face and made me feel like she really cared about us.”

Coach Gary Blair is another who cares deeply about this community. He graciously gave of his time to be at the event and shared some of his thoughts with the guests. He talked about growing up and how important his family’s small home was. He also encouraged everyone to look after their neighbors. Get to know them. Don’t just build a house for a family, he implored, but check up on them and make sure they’re doing well. His call to serve our neighbors served as a perfect conclusion to the evening and as a fitting mantra for Habitat as it moves into the next 25 years.

The 25th anniversary event would not have been possible without community and volunteer support.  Thank you to the following:

Volunteers: Isabel McPartlin, Sua Lee and Felipe Serrano

A&M United Methodist Church allowed us to the host the event in their Great Hall free of charge. It was a fitting location as the first Habitat office in B/CS was at the church.

Kyle Cameron Studios provided photography for the evening free of charge.

Nan’s Blossom Shop donated the flowers presented to the Habitat homeowners who have paid off their mortgages. They also provided a plant for the stage.