When Hurricane Harvey hit the city of Houston, few anticipated the devastation that the weather phenomenon would leave. But for Jocelyn Casa the tragedy was immediately and dramatically evident: Her mobile home had been flooded by the waters and perhaps she could never live in it again.
Four-month pregnant, with her daughter Mia (then 9 years old) and her husband, Juan Peña, the one born in Monterrey, Mexico, had to be rescued by a dump truck that took her and her family to a safe place.. “We decided to evacuate and they went for us in a very large work truck. I was just saying 'please, let my baby be safe,'”the mother of two children today reminds People en Español when speaking of the tragedy that occurred two years ago but that has left profound consequences.
“I had to control my nerves because I didn't want anything to happen to me in my pregnancy… to see that we could no longer go out, that the guide was going up. I panicked until they came to rescue us,”he continues. "I was pregnant, I was very nervous, I felt that the world was coming down to us," she recalls. "We went with my husband's family, they were six, they also [lived] in a trailer."
Overnight her dreams fell apart: her children's education, her home, everything was marked by tragedy. "It was a very difficult experience", he assures with his voice that he still breaks when remembering what he lived.
But as a good "fighting" mom Jocelyn looked for a way out. At the time, she worked in a warehouse doing inventories, and her husband worked in Houston public works. "Little by little we were dating … at first we took our money," she explains about the way they started to fix their mobile home. A year later, and thanks to the intervention of a person who knew Jocelyn and her family through the Red Cross, they began to receive support from the federal agency FEMA.
Curiously, this desire to get ahead sowed the seed of what would later be the salvation of the Casas family. In 2015 and through a friend and an announcement on Univision Jocelyn heard about Habitat for Humanity and programs like Baby's First Home campaign, which is carried out with the pregnancy test company First Response to help families have their own home..
“At first nobody believed. We went … we applied. Then they said they accepted my application. That was before Hurricane Harvey, "he explains. But then he learned that to achieve his dream he would have to put 250 hours of work and carefully fill out the papers to request a mortgage within his family's reach.
Mía, the oldest daughter of Jocelyn, with her little brother Jayden and her mother's husband: Juan Peña, working in one of the houses that Habitat for Humanity and the program like Baby's First Home campaign of First Response have provided for other families such as the hers:
The dream of getting a house within their means was achieved thanks to these organizations since the family has helped others to have a home. In total they had to put 250 hours of work to achieve their dream:
Jocelyn breaking the turkey of Thanksgiving that they celebrated in advance to celebrate that in a short time the Nieto family will also open a house, like them:
Former President Jimmy Carter has supported Habitat for Humanity over the years:
"When they accepted me, I was nervous, I was a single mom, I just lived with my parents, my nephew and my girl," explains Jocelyn about the moment when she revealed to her parents that her application to buy a home had been accepted.. Fear seized her "What if I can't afford this house?" She asked her parents. "Well, let's see how we can do it, but you won't lose this opportunity," they assured her, giving her their full support.
“They gave us the house in November . I never thought I was going to have a house, "he says. “I thought 'I will never have something like this, because it is very expensive, I couldn't. [But] we were given the Habitat opportunity and it was a blessing to us.”
The opening of his new home was only marred by the death of his father, who passed away in 2018. "It's hard to talk about him," said Jocelyn tearfully, who has now placed a photo of her father in a place of honor. in your new house. “It helped us move. She said the house was very pretty. Unfortunately he passed away in September. In December we were planning to spend Christmas at home, but he was gone.”
The hard blow has only brought the family together as never before and just in time for Thanksgiving, the Houses have set to work to help put the finishing touches on a new house that the Nieto family will now inhabit, new Habitat and First Response beneficiaries. In fact, they have celebrated Thanksgiving in advance for all that they have received.
"Seek help. God never leaves us,”advises Jocelyn to those out there looking for a way out after suffering a desperate situation like the one she had to live through. "We are not alone. There are many people who are there to help us and to help out.” So is.
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