By Terry Rogers
On Thursday, December 5, the deLeon-Velasquez family received the keys to their new home at a ceremony arranged by Sussex County Habitat for Humanity. The home was made possible through the generosity of many volunteers who helped build the home, as well as sponsors Burris Logistics, Brendon T. Warfel Construction and Grotto Pizza. Many other area businesses contributed to the project as well.
The home, located on Gilcrest Street in Milford, will be the home of Abigail deLeon and his wife, Ofilia Velasquez, along with their four children, Leopoldo, Tito, Abigail and Esteban, who range in age from one to five years old. The family was presented with the key to their new home during the ceremony, which was attended by many of the volunteers who helped build the home for them.
“We came to Milford about ten years ago to see if it was an area we would want to live in,” said the family’s pastor, Reverend Jim Gordly. “It was Abigail who took us around town, took us out to dinner and made us feel welcome. It is with great pleasure today that I am able to bless this home for such a wonderful family.”
Kevin Gilmore, Executive Director of Sussex County Habitat for Humanity reminded everyone that it was a special day that should not be taken lightly, not just for the deLeon-Velasquez family, but also for all the volunteers who helped make the family’s dreams come true.
“It is a day to thank the Lord for bringing a group of people together to make this project possible,” Mr. Gilmore said. “The effort of the community coming together to bring a project like this to life is incredible. I hope the seeds that are planted in you during this process continue to grow.” Many of those who worked on the project are friends of the deLeon-Velasquez family, while others were the recipients of the family’s generosity as well. Both Abigail and Ofilia spent many hours volunteering for Habitat for Humanity on homes for others before ground was broken on their own home.
In addition to the keys to the home, Sussex County Habitat for Humanity Board President presented the family with a Bible, which is a tradition at all homes built by Habitat for Humanity. Mark Quigley, Manager of the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Georgetown, presented the first picture for the new home and a gift certificate to the ReStore to the deLeon-Velasquez family. The family was emotional as they thanked all of those who helped build their new home.
“I have to give thanks to God first,” Abigail said. “But secondly, I must thank everyone here and those from Habitat. When I came to this country, I came poor and with nothing. I have worked hard for many years and I am now living my dream. This is the best Christmas present we could ever get, and my wife, my children and I cannot possibly thank you enough.” Ofilia echoed Abigail’s sentiments.
“I have to give thanks to God because he is so great and he has blessed us tremendously,” she said. “May he bless each and every one of you for everything you have done for my family.”
Tom Protack, Community Engagement Director for Sussex County Habitat for Humanity, said that over 1,000 volunteer hours went into building the home.
“As I said in the first press release I sent out about this project, what does a custom home builder, refrigerated truck delivery company, and pizza place have in common?” Mr. Protack said. “What they have in common is a desire to help others. When you frequent these businesses, please thank them for providing assistance to Habitat for Humanity. Although they don’t do it for the praise, it is still nice to let them know that their efforts are appreciated.”