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Chance Meeting Changes The Life for a Family of Five

Brenda building along with volunteers at her future home.

Brenda, who is the Olive Ave. future homeowner, had a serendipitous introduction to San Gabriel Valley for Humanity (SGV Habitat).  After advertising items on the app “offer up” she met the purchaser at her home, and a friendly conversation ensued between the two women about their families. Brenda expressed that her one bedroom, one bath back house was extremely small for their family of 5 but after years of searching for a home, their efforts were thwarted due to the outrageous cost of housing. The woman shared that she was able to purchase her home through the SGV Habitat homeownership program.

Brenda immediately researched SGV Habitat and learned that the homeownership application deadline was quickly approaching. In February 2020 Brenda and her husband Gerardo successfully submitted their application. In March 2020 Covid-19 shut down all SGV Habitat construction. The dream of homeownership for Brenda and Gerardo was once again put on hold. But they didn’t give up.

Brenda, Gerardo and their three children, Samuel (12), Alessandra (9), and Esmeralda (7), have resided in a back house in Los Angeles for 10 years. The limited living and sleeping space paled in comparison to the fear of their rent increasing year after year or that the home would be sold.

“The day that Laura (Director of Programs at SGV Habitat) called to tell us that our application was accepted I cried with joy, and I haven’t stopped crying since,” Brenda said, tears in her eyes remembering the day. “We kept praying and praying. It was such an overwhelming and amazing feeling,” Brenda continued her voice breaking with emotion.

Gerardo and Brenda at Women Build, the event that kicked-off the Olive Ave. home.

After being accepted into the SGV Habitat homeownership program, Brenda and Gerardo, for the first time felt that the dream of owning their own home would become a reality.  After years of searching for an affordable home, only to be left with a feeling of despair, they finally felt hopeful. Homeownership means that Brenda and Gerardo will finally have the security and stability they have desired for so many years.

“When we found out that we qualified for the Olive Ave. home, we read the email to the kids and immediately jumped into the car to go and look at the lot,” Brenda said.

Esmeraldo, Alessandra, Samuel

Esmeraldo, the youngest of the children, didn’t quite understand the situation as her first statement upon seeing the dirt lot was, “I don’t want to live on an empty lot.”  Brenda and Gerardo explained that their new house would be built on the lot and the children began visualizing a new life, with a yard, a 2-car garage and with exceedingly more space than their current residence.

Alessandra expressed her excitement to garden in a yard of her own and have space for their puppy to play outside.  Sammy will finally have his own room. He surveyed the neighborhood driving to the home and is excited about the walkability of the neighborhood.

“It was unsafe to walk around our old neighborhood; here I can walk to get a sandwich at Subway down the street,” he said with a big smile on his face glancing at his mother for approval.

“I’m looking forward to having my own room and space,” Brenda shared, “But what I look forward to the most is being able to cook dinner together with my family in a kitchen that is not cramped, and in an oven that is standard sized.” she continued. “Right now, our kitchen and dining area is so small we do not eat together as a family. The kids eat in the living room and Gerardo and I eat in the kitchen. I have dreamed of having my family sitting around the table enjoying a meal for years.”

With Brenda and Gerardo’s oldest child being 12 years old, the children only remember a life living in a cramped space.  “My youngest asked me, what will happen to our memories?” Gerardo shared. “I told her, we will transfer our memories into our new home, make more memories, and all of them will stay with us in our new home forever.”

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Brenda and Gerardo building at Olive Ave.



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