When Juan and Zulema Ramos had their third child, they knew it was time for a home of their own.
The two-bedroom house they shared with Juan’s father was already cramped for their family, and despite saving up for a place of their own, it still wasn’t enough.
But Juan’s sister, Paulina, had an idea: She suggested he apply for a home through Habitat for Humanity of Kansas City. Paulina herself was a Habitat homeowner, and Juan had helped her build that home the year before.
“I didn’t think I would qualify but she convinced me to give it a shot,” Juan said.
Juan worried that if they were selected, his family would have to leave their neighborhood, where they were surrounded by friends and family.
After completing an application with a Habitat KC Homeowner Services coordinator, the family was selected for a large, newly remodeled three-bedroom home with a basement, attached garage, large backyard and a location that couldn’t be beaten: their neighborhood, just two blocks from their old house.
Staying in the neighborhood meant that not only could they be close to friends and family, but Juan and his father could start their dream of a father-son business of car and furniture upholstery.
Before they could purchase the home, Juan and Zulema needed to complete “sweat equity” — what Habitat for Humanity calls volunteer hours — and financial education classes.
The couple reached out to their friends and family and asked them for help completing the hours. Juan also called in a favor from his sister who he had helped a year before.
“I called Paulina and said, ‘Hey, you remember how I helped build your home?’” he joked.
“We didn’t even have to ask her,” Zulema said.
“As soon as we told her we were accepted, she signed up to volunteer.”
With the help of friends and family, they were able to complete all 350 required sweat equity hours in just four weeks.
“We’re so thankful for the home and everyone who helped us to get here,” Zulema said.
The Ramos family will move into their new home in February, but they are already making plans to continue partnering with Habitat KC.
“I want to still volunteer because I can help others, too,” Juan said. “I can tell friends who need a house to go apply and volunteer. We’re going to be involved with Habitat for a long time.”
“Being here will make my dreams come true.”