SRP volunteers build new ‘habitats’ from the heart - East Valley Tribune: Business

SRP volunteers build new ‘habitats’ from the heart

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Posted: Saturday, February 23, 2013 7:47 am | Updated: 9:20 am, Sat Mar 2, 2013.

As the first wall rose on her new home, Angelica Palomares silently wiped a tear from her cheek.

“I can’t believe we’re building our house,” she said as three of her four children joined her in Tempe at the construction site of their future home.

Despite a couple of wet weekends, crews from the SRP Volunteer program raised their hammers, climbed ladders and measured two-by-fours Saturday as the next Habitat for Humanity home took shape.

Over the next 14 weeks, the home belonging to the Palomares family will be built with love, care and dedication as more than 150 SRP employees, retirees, friends and families donate their time to building the family’s dream house. By the end of the project, the volunteers will have done everything from framing, to drywall, to painting and landscaping.

The four-bedroom, two-bath structure will be home to Angelica, a single mother of four children, Concepcion, 19; Samantha, 17; Javier, 16; and Amarantha, 10. The journey to home ownership through the Habitat program includes a rigorous application and approval process, attending two eight-hour classes; homebuyer education and financial fitness classes, and contributing a minimum of 400 sweat-equity hours for new construction and a minimum of 200 sweat-equity hours on renovations.

“It’s exciting because once we get our keys, we can say we helped build our own home,” said Concepcion, who took a break and wore a hardhat and tool belt as she stood in the middle of a bustling construction site.

This is the 11th Habitat home SRP has built with the help of more than 1,500 volunteers who have donated their time over the last 20 years. The newest home will be LEED Platinum certified and will be equipped with a 4.8-megawatt solar system and a solar water heater, which SRP donated. Both units could help lower the energy needs of the home by as much as 75 percent.

The SRP Volunteer program puts employees together with viable nonprofit organizations as they address critical community needs. In 2012, SRP Volunteers worked with 88 nonprofit organizations on more than 150 projects donating their time and experience in cities throughout the Valley.

“The enthusiasm is so contagious every year,” said Jen Martyn, who manages the volunteer efforts at SRP. “We have hundreds of SRP employees who volunteer at many community events and projects each year, and this one is very special to our employees.”

Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona has a long history of successfully working to better the community by building, renovating and repairing homes in the Phoenix metropolitan area. The organization has built and renovated more than 864 homes across Maricopa County and parts of Pinal County along with an additional 304 home repairs. All families served through the Habitat program are low- to moderate-income and are US Citizens or Permanent Residents.

“Working on a Habitat house gives you a chance to enhance your own community by providing a better environment for a family that will help them succeed,” said Kim Humphrey, an SRP senior market research analyst who has served on the board of Habitat for Humanity for five years.

Humphrey said she is always touched by the Wall Signing Ceremony, which takes place the first day of the build. The volunteers write their own messages to the family so that after the drywall and paint have been applied, the messages of hope and love remain.

“The wall signing is very emotional and one hopes the messages will provide love and support in the future for the family,” Humphrey said.

Future homeowner Angelica said she felt the love as she watched the men and women dedicating hours of hard work to her dream home.

“I’m so grateful that these good-hearted people from SRP are helping us,” she said as her eyes scanned the worksite. “They work without getting paid, and it comes from their hearts.”

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