There’s no place like home | Habitat for Humanity

This fall I had an opportunity to take pictures for the Beltran family in Santa Clara, where they have lived at their Habitat house for nine years. The family was also interviewed during this day, and here are snippets from their interview put together by Habitat for Humanity East Bay/Silicon Valley staff on 8/23/2017:

Lourdes Beltran is not shy about the effect homeownership has had on her family of five. “Life for us is just – I don’t want to say ‘perfect’ – but it’s close to it!” It is hard not to be proud of the life she and her husband, Jorge, have built, with three thriving children and a home they treasure.

Habitat homeowners for close to ten years, Lourdes and Jorge have seen what a profound effect homeownership has had on their lives, their children’s development, and even the way they see themselves and the world. “We had changed,” Lourdes says. “Our way of thinking also changed.”

Lourdes and Jorge noticed that change most profoundly in their daughter Pamela. They watched her blossom, growing in confidence and responsibility, after moving in to their Habitat home in Santa Clara. “It was really emotional for her,” Lourdes remembers. “It really changed her a lot, for the good.” Pamela never forgot what a change they had undergone from their previous circumstances, from their old apartment, their old neighborhood. “She always tells me how lucky we were to get out of there,” Lourdes says. “To pursue something different. To become different people. To go to a better neighborhood, have better neighbors, to have a better life. She is really grateful that we moved up. We had a better chance now, a chance to do better, to do more. It’s a totally different life that we have now, with the house.”

That teenager who blossomed in her Habitat home has now grown into a passionate, self-assured adult. Pamela lives in Sacramento now, pursuing a future as an educator. Before Pamela had the chance to establish her life and career in Sacramento, she had to try and find the perfect home for her and her family so they could get this new chapter of their lives started. A friend had recommended she looked at real estate platforms like, which offer beautiful Sacramento homes for a variety of price ranges. Nevertheless, Pamela managed to find the perfect home for her. Working part-time as a preschool teacher, Pamela also attends college with the goal of teaching at the high school level. She has a gift when it comes to working with teenagers, Lourdes says proudly. Lourdes and Jorge provide financial support to help Pamela complete her degree, and they are glad to do so. “We are really grateful that we have the ability to do this,” Lourdes says. “If it wasn’t for the house through Habitat, I don’t think this would be possible. The money other people make goes all to rent. Luckily, we have the house, so we do have the ability to do all these things for our kids.” Pamela’s older sister, Daniela, “was always all about numbers,” according to their mother. And this penchant for math has served her well, as she went to college with a scholarship and graduated with a degree in engineering. “She’s doing really, really well,” Lourdes says. “She is really strong and hardworking.” Living in Pasadena, Daniela recently started her own business, doing 3D modeling for major clients, including some of the biggest names in tech not far from her parents’ home.

The youngest Beltran, Clemente, has just started seventh grade and has been keeping up a very busy schedule with school and playing football. “He is having a really good time,” Lourdes says, but she likes the sport “because it’s really good discipline. He has to really, really commit.” It isn’t all about football for Clemente, though. Since he was young, he and his parents have played traditional Mexican music as a family. Jorge, Lourdes, and Clemente all play a variety of stringed instruments like the jarana and the vihuela, making regional Mexican melodies in the Veracruz, Huasteco, and Mariachi traditions. They perform in the community, but their favorite venue is their Habitat home. The last Saturday of the month, their music becomes a neighborhood affair. “Since we first moved in,” Lourdes says, “the neighbors, everybody, knows! They come over and enjoy the music and the dancing.”

Lourdes and Jorge can’t help but be gratified as they look at their children. “We’re really, really happy that we can offer the stability and confidence to our kids,” Lourdes says. Homeownership is so much more than a change of scenery for the Beltran family. “We’ve upgraded in life in general,” according to Lourdes. “It’s not just moving to another house. It’s moving to another level in life.” That new level in life offers a new view. As owners of a green-built house, complete with rooftop solar panels, the Beltrans find that they see things differently. “When you have your own house,” Lourdes says, “your mind just changes. It’s just a different point of view, a different perspective. You just care more.

While that new perspective has widened her view, Lourdes still just enjoys the simple pleasure of a home of her own. “I just love to be in my house,” she says. “I want to be in my house all the time.”

I look forward to working more with the organization during the coming year! For donations and volunteering, please visit Habitat for Humanity EB/SV.

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