Hockaday Donates Habitat for Humanity House

Photo+provided+by+Shreya+Gunukula%2F%2FThe+Fourcast

Photo provided by Shreya Gunukula//The Fourcast

On April 2, Hockaday and St. Mark’s students gathered in front of a red brick house on the corner of McBroom Street in West Dallas and cheered as Martha Davila, the new homeowner for this Habitat for Humanity house, held the key for the first time.

After eight weeks of roofing, hammering and landscaping, the house was finally ready to be dedicated to Davila, who worked alongside students, teachers and construction volunteers for over 70 hours to build her dream home.

Martha Davila first came to Dallas from Mexico with her mother in 1980. After returning to Mexico for a short period of time, she moved back to Dallas and has lived here ever since. When Martha first heard about Dallas Habitat, she did not qualify for the program. When she reached did reach a point where she qualified, she had been staying in the living room of her daughter’s house. Six years later, Martha is ready to be independent.

“I have been planning to purchase my own home for a while now,” Davila said. “I think it is a good time for me to do this, and Habitat for Humanity has made me realize what a small group can do when they work together,” 

The dedication ceremony included a greeting and opening prayer led by Hockaday Community Service board chair, senior Allie Charlton, followed by an introduction of Martha and her family. She was then presented with gifts, including bread, wine, flowers, a bible, toolbox and symbolic keys. Davila noted that one of the first things she wants to do is throw a small party for the team of volunteers.

“I want to cook something special and invite all of you to our house,” she said.

At the ceremony, Headmistress Liza Lee also remarked on the history of Habitat for Humanity as she personally knew the founder of the organization.

Many Hockaday students were involved in the construction of the house over a course of eight weekends, including Charlton. Although so many volunteers were creating the house, Charlton noted that the beauty of the Habitat for Humanity program is that Davila is actually purchasing the house.

“It’s really cool because we’re not just giving her the house. She’s buying the house but we’re providing free workers so she can buy it cheaper,” Charlton said.

In addition to having to earn money and purchase the house, Davila had to have at least 200 hours of volunteer work and work at least 70 hours on building the house to participate in the program.

While Charlton and others appreciated that the house was earned instead of simply donated, Director of Service Learning Laura Day admired another aspect of the Habitat program.

“This is a consistent project that you physically, tangibly see progressing and that is different from anything else we do because this is a real structure that you see someone live in,” Day said.

Both Charlton and Davila agreed that there is something special about actually witnessing a growing and changing community service project.

“The students appreciate [the project] with her and go along with the journey. They have the ownership like ‘I made that house’,” said Charlton.

For Davila, the weekly progress not only meant changes for the house but also changes for herself. She recalled a moment where she overcame her fear of heights to bring waters up to volunteers on the roof. During the build, she had several favorite moments that she said she will cherish for the rest of her life.

“I remember the electricity stopped working and we danced in secret,” Davila said.

With Davila checking up on the volunteers and giving them water, nails or whatever else they needed for the project, the build was completed successfully. In the final few weekends, professional construction volunteers installed bricks and created an arch over the door to complete the look. This new home means a new beginning for Davila and she is excited to make a move that is affordable and will allow her to be close to her loved ones.

“In my new home it will be different. I am excited to host my family, friends, and neighbors in a place that I can be proud of that is all mine,” Davila said.

The Habitat for Humanity program has given Davila newfound independence and an incredible experience to Charlton and the team of volunteers.

Charlton said, “Seeing how she’s saved a lot of money and worked really hard to get this house is amazing. Martha is so deserving of this house and i couldn’t think of a more appreciative person to give it to.”