By Kim Hilsenbeck
Brad Martin, construction manager for Bigelow Homes, welcomed a crowd of about 40 people on a recent blustery, chilly morning to the groundbreaking for Homes for Hope, a project of Hope International.
Standing on the lot donated by the Plum Creek development firm, Martin said, “We have a wonderful opportunity to be a part of Hope International and Homes for Hope.”
Hope International assists people around the world in lifting themselves up from poverty by offering small low-interest loans. When that money is paid back, it goes to help other families.
Martin introduced Paul Valdez, purchasing manager for Bigelow Homes, who offered the invocation.
“I did pray for the sun to come out and the wind to stop…”
Kyle’s Interim City Manager James Earp called out, “Maybe you should stop now while you’re ahead.”
A chuckle rippled through the crowd.
Following Valdez’s prayer, Jack Nulty from Homes for Hope addressed the audience and spoke about the ground breaking.
“I can’t tell you how much this is going to mean to so many people,” he said. “This home has the probability…of helping a thousand families create a sustainable income for their families, okay. This is not a hand out, okay, this is a hand up.”
He added that the money will empower loan recipients to start and launch small businesses then turn around and provide for the needs for their families. He said it’s economic development, not just monetary relief.
Hope International provides the capital needed to start a business and then meets with the person who took out the loan every other week until it’s paid off.
“We’re going to be breaking ground here to build something pretty special,” Nulty said.
He referred to Teresa Bautista, a woman in Hato Mayor, Dominican Republic. He met her about a year ago and said she received a $43 loan from Hope International.
“She was able to go from hand sewing with a needle and thread to purchasing a foot-pump sewing machine,” he said.
Nulty said while visiting Bautista, he watched her work her machine.
“It was like making music,” he said.
When her Hope International loan officer found out Bautista had cancer, the organization put a halt on her loan repayment until she was better.
Bigelow Homes aims to sell the house in Kyle’s Plum Creek for $200,000, according to company president Jamie Bigelow, which will help thousands of families through Hope International.
“It’s amazing that $43 can make a huge impact in somebody’s life,” Bigelow said. “As Americans, we can’t really understand that even after you see it. I had no idea how much that helped – that 43 dollars – for a foot-pedal sewing machine.”
He added that he imagined Bautista’s business probably doubled.
Tony Spano from Plum Creek said the lives and the effects [of the loan] are hard to fathom.
“It changes their world,” he said.
Earlier Nulty expressed that the program has a deeper meaning than just money.
“This goes way beyond a loan,” Nulty said. “This is about a relationship.”