Local Mother Celebrates Paying Off Mortgage and Has Message for Habitat Volunteers 16 Years after House was Built

For Immediate Release:

February 7, 2018 (MONTROSE, CO) — This February when Catalina Gomez makes her final mortgage payment on her home, it will mark both an enormous accomplishment and the realization of a goal that has shaped her life, and those of her children.

After her divorce, Gomez and her children moved from Iowa to Montrose in search of the right community to call home.

“Never in a million years did my mom ever dream she could own a home,” said Maribel Garcia, Gomez’s eldest child, now 30.

In 1999 she found Montrose and a job at Russell Stover. In 2003 a friend told Gomez about the Habitat for Humanity program.

Garcia remembers when she and her sister learned their family was accepted into the Habitat for Humanity affordable housing program.

“The fact we were going to have very our own bedrooms, to have our very own space, for the first time in our entire lives, was very exciting.”

She and her sister were eager to pitch in, their brother was only a toddler. “We didn’t understand Habitat’s business model, but what we did know was that we had to help. We were excited to be a part of the process and get the project finished,” said Garcia.

Like all Habitat families, Gomez and her family contributed hundreds of volunteer hours into building their home.

Garcia said the experience shaped who she is today.

At age 21 she moved out of her mother’s home. “In our heritage, as Hispanic, it’s typical to stay home until you’re married, but mom was not traditional in that aspect. She was very proactive in speaking to us about owning our own homes.”

With their mother’s encouragement, both Garcia and her sister, Adriana Morales, made their first real estate purchases at ages 20 and 21, which proved to be good investments for the sisters.

“My mother showed us that we could achieve our goals as independent people,” said Garcia.

Gomez continues to work at Russell Stover, where she has worked for nearly 20 years.

“My mom feels so very blessed and happy that she can say this home belongs to her,” said Garcia. “She knows having the house paid off means she can work less in the future and will have more time with her family to make up for the time she couldn’t spend with her children when they were young.”

But the message Gomez most wants most to relay to the community is how grateful she has been—and will always be—for the many volunteers that gave their time and energy to make her home a reality.

Garcia, who was translating for her mom added, “Honestly I don’t think volunteers can know just how much you can change peoples lives, they’ve shared a huge blessing with us.”

Habitat for Humanity of the San Juans serves Montrose, Ouray and San Miguel counties and is currently building or planning new construction on triplexes in Montrose and Ridgway, once completed the organization will have built 59 homes for regional families since 1991.

For information on how to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity of the San Juans, visit buildinglives.org.