By Eric Butler
Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of United Way agency profiles scheduled for publication each Sunday, Wednesday and Friday through Nov. 21.
Before Habitat for Humanity helped build them a new house to live in, Bill and Esther Faye Machen struggled to get by in a small trailer in Portales.
Worse, Esther Faye had to move around in a wheelchair and a walker in a home that was hardly handicapped accessible.
“It’s like a dream sometimes — I feel like I’m in someone else’s house and not my own,” said Esther Faye Machen, 57, of the Portales home that she and her husband moved into two months ago.
“It’s the best feeling I’ve ever had in my whole life.”
Recently, the local Habitat for Humanity expanded its base of operations from Portales to Clovis and is now called the Habitat for Humanity of Roosevelt and Curry Counties.
As part of the expansion, the organization is asking for help from the Curry County United Way this year for the first time.
In Curry County, Habitat for Humanity has had one lot donated to it and has selected a family, but has yet to begin work on the house.
Local president Joyce Davis said another house is half completed in Portales.
“We get no-interest mortgages from the Mortgage Finance Authority in Albuquerque,” Davis said. “So, they purchase the house. It is not a giveaway program.”
The Machen’s new home is around 900 square feet in size. The maximum size of a Habitat house is 1,150 square feet. Volunteers usually work on the houses on Saturdays.
“They’re very tiny houses, but very nice. We try to make them energy-efficient and we try to make them accessible for people with any type of handicap,” Davis said. “We don’t build them until we have a family selected.”
Davis said the family chosen must make payments on the house and is required to donate 500 hours themselves of what she calls “sweat equity” — hours spent working on the building itself, in the Habitat office or through fund-raisers.
The Machens said it has all been worth it.
“It all began when I got sick, had a heart attack. Then I started having nurses taking care of me from Clovis Home Healthcare,” Esther Faye Machen said. “My therapist encouraged Bill to fill out the paperwork for Habitat for Humanity.
“I think it’s a gift from God, I really do. I never dreamed I’d have a house of my own.”
Habitat for Humanity
(in Roosevelt and Curry Counties)
Address: 213 South Main in Portales, 359-1344
Mission: To build housing for qualified families who earn less than 50 percent of the median income of the county.
Board members: 16
Annual budget: $40,000-$50,000