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Habitat for Humanity Families in Marble Falls Look Forward to Home Ownership, Helping Others

The Rev. George Perry with daughter Ezzy and wife Linda stand in a lot where their Highland Lakes Habitat for Humanity home will be built. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro

MARBLE FALLS — Part of the American dream is owning a home, and for three area families, Highland Lakes Habitat for Humanity is helping turn that dream into reality.

“We all want to own something. We all want to leave our kids something when we leave here,” said the Rev. George Perry of St. Frederick Baptist Church. “It was like I won the lottery. To be rewarded or given something like that is overwhelming. It’s something you don’t expect.”

Along with Perry and his family, Habitat officials selected the Hyslop and Izell families for new homes.

The three families will live next door to each other on the corner of Second Street and Avenue M in Marble Falls. Construction on at least one home is scheduled to begin in the fall with the last home projected to be completed no later than 2019.

Stephanie (back row, left) and Hailey Izell with daughters Toryn (front row, left) and Kirra at the Highland Lakes Habitat for Humanity lots on Second Street and Avenue M. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro

“We’re excited to work with the families that are with us,” Hailey Izell said. “They have kids around our oldest daughter’s age. I’m excited to have neighbors who have our interests and, hopefully, being neighborly.”

Habitat officials sort through applications then pay home visits to examine needs as part of the process in selecting families. Families put in what is known as “sweat equity,” volunteering 300 hours to help another family build its home as well as on their own homes.

The homes aren’t just given to the families. Beyond the sweat equity, families also pay a mortgage to Habitat for Humanity on the homes. That money goes back into an account to help future families.

The difference, however, is the families don’t have to pay for labor since the workers are volunteers. Many professional plumbers, electricians, landscapers, and other specialists often donate material and their expertise to the homes. That also saves in costs.

“All you have is one interest-free note,” Perry said. “I love it because you get to work on it. You take care of something better if you had the sweat to get it. You put blood and sweat into something, you take better care of it.”

Izell said Habitat officials have put her mind at ease because of their constant communication through the process.

Shana Hyslop and her son Zander are ready to start building their new Highland Lakes Habitat for Humanity Home. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro

“They’ve gone above and beyond to keep us updated and helped us not to lose hope,” she said. “They’ve been a great support.”

As a pastor, Perry has done much for the community, including overseeing the preparation of meals for Mission Marble Falls, which serves anyone wanting food and fellowship three days a week.

A favorite moment for Perry during the entire process was being able to tell his 10-year-old daughter, Ezzie, that she’ll be able to choose the color of paint for her room.

“My little one, she’s bundled up in joy,” he said. “This gives her a leg-up or a boost. After college, she can come back and take over.”

For Hyslop, her home represents life-changing events. She and her son moved in with her parents three years ago. She began going to church and decided she wanted to volunteer. Habitat for Humanity fit what she was looking for because she was able to learn new skills and help others.

She applied for a Habitat home five years ago at the urging of her father.

Hyslop has long since finished her 300 hours of sweat equity after volunteering on at least two other home projects. She can’t say enough about Habitat for Humanity’s impact, not just on her life, but on the entire community.

“It’s an amazing organization,” she said. “Most volunteers are retired; they’re doing it to help others.”

Izell submitted her application in December 2014 when she exhausted all other outlets for housing such as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and obtaining a mortgage. She and her family are living in a one-bedroom apartment with only one income.

But that will change in the coming year or so.

Izell admitted she doesn’t have experience in building a home, but she’s looking forward to it.

“I don’t mind working hard and working with my hands,” she said. “I’ll be learning.”

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