Thursday, January 3, 2008






  4th Habitat House breaks ground in Tool
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

TOOL–The construction of a fourth home sponsored by the Cedar Creek Lake Habitat for Humanity broke ground recently – this time on the west side of the lake.
Jody Van Worth and her three children qualified for the housing program that allows families to pay a mortgage without interest and requires at least 300 hours of sweat equity in the building.

Monitor Photo/Barbara Gartman
Cedar Creek Habitat for Humanity officially broke ground for a three-bedroom, two-bath home in Cedarcrest Shores for Jody (Tarkington) Van Worth and her three children, Austin (13), Hanna (12) and Lana (9) Dec. 15. Pictured are members of the local Habitat organization, Van Worth and her children (center), friends, family and church

Van Worth has already started her hours by helping with House No. 2.
She requested a house lot located in the Malakoff school district for her children, and recently got a new job in the district as well.
Her house broke ground in Cedarcrest Shores Dec. 15.
Mabank High School shop classes are constructing the third Habitat House, with funds raised during Spirit Week in September.
Habitat board president Eston Williams confirmed Van Worth’s house is being erected with help from local churches.
“This house is going to be a disciple build,” Ron Close told The Monitor earlier.
So far, six churches have signed on to take responsibility for a part of the build.
“We’d like at least six more,” Williams said.
Van Worth’s church, The Rope, Catch and Ride for Christ Cowboy Church of Mabank, is looking forward to being a part of the team.
The new approach helps insure helping hands as the project progresses.
“There’s a lot of enthusiasm as the beginning of a build when the walls go up, but toward the end, it is sometimes hard to get people involved,” Close explained.
By Jan. 15, plans call for the concrete slab to be poured.
The house has been pre-built by New Hope Construction in Tennessee, and its parts are due to arrive by container Friday, Jan. 18.
“It’s like putting together a giant puzzle,” Close said.
That same day, all the walls are expected to go up. The next day, the trusses go on, and on Monday, roofers will dry-in the house, Williams explained.
Anyone interested in helping with a donation or offer to help in the building can call (903) 451-5055, or building manager Ron Close at (903) 425-6108.

Genesis Center rescued from repayment of $10,000 loan
Monitor Staff Reports
with help from The Kaufman Herald

KAUFMAN–Faced with the removal of an underground fuel tank, Genesis Center director Alan Austin was forced to seek a $10,000 bank loan in December to comply with state law.
“We’re always living by faith here,” Austin said. “But paying for something like this at this time of year is really going to be tough.”
Austin was praying that somehow, the Center, which shelters women and children in their darkest hour, would be able to raise the money to repay the loan.
That prayer was answered three days after taking the loan.
Burning Tree Programs of Kaufman stepped up to the plate with a $1,000 per month payment over the next 10 months.
“We are real thankful that there are other folks out there who understand what we’re trying to do here. Burning Tree helps people like we help people. The only difference is you pay to go out there,” Austin said. “For them to understand and come up and help us is truly a blessing.”
Austin said it takes about $30,000 a month for the Center to stay open. Besides private donations, it is supported by the sales from its thrift shop.
The first time Austin heard about the 5,000-gallon underground fuel tank was in May.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality sent a letter giving him 90 days to have it removed, Austin said.
A few calls later, Austin learned it would cost $25,000 to get rid of it. “There was no way we could make that happen,” he said.
State Rep. Betty Brown, a Genesis Center supporter, successfully got the deadline extended and fund-raising efforts began. However those efforts were not nearly enough to meet the challenge.
Austin’s efforts led him to T&P of Palestine, which offered to remove the tank at a discount, lowering the cost to $10,000.
“I put my reputation on the line, went down to Guaranty Bank and got a loan to pay for it,” Austin said.
Relief only begins to describe the feeling Austin has since accepting Burning Tree’s offer to pay the loan.
“For them to raise up and want to help is really a great thing for us. Burning Tree understands that we’re trying to change people’s lives and they know what it takes for us to do that,” Austin said.
The Genesis Center houses up to 40 women and children, often the victims of domestic violence.
“We still have lots of needs. We had shortages before this crisis arose. This situation was threatening to push us over the edge, but now we can focus on giving the support to the people who are in crisis,” Austin said.
He counts more than 1,000 women and 700 children helped at The Genesis Center, however about three times that many have also had to be turned away. “We’d like to help more, but of course that takes more money,” Austin said.
Tax-deductible donations can be made to The Genesis Center, 2675 N. State Hwy. 34, Kaufman, TX 75142. The center can be reached by calling (972) 932-4351.

A Kemp boy gets wish come true
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

KEMP–Reno Martinez, 11, had many Christmas wishes this year.
Wishes that would make life easier for his grandmother, who takes care of him and his five brothers and sisters – wishes that the chemotherapy he’s getting would hurry up and take effect, so he can get better.
Wishes that would feed his hope for a healthy future.
But the wish one special organization was able to grant included a 42-inch LCD flat screen television and a 360XBox entertainment center.
Martinez was surprised and thrilled to have one of his desires granted. Playing Guitar Hero III® and The Simpsons® will help him feel normal, like any other kid.

Monitor Photo/Pearl Cantrell
Tony Ciardo of the West Cedar Creek Municipal Utility District wishes his young friend Reno Martinez a merry Christmas during his special delivery party Dec. 15.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation of North Texas, based in Tyler, took Reno’s wish over the top.
They planned a special event for Reno at his Valentine Shores home Dec. 15 – one he could share with his family and friends.
Through some of its many volunteers, Star Power of Dallas got involved to donate and install the entertainment system complete with self-supporting screen stand, DVD player and surround sound.
Best Buy of Dallas came on board, donating a host of popular games and accessories, including two video-playing chairs.
And Gun Barrel City’s Radio Shack, on very short notice, donated a portable DVD player, case and headphones, so Reno can take his mind off the upcoming treatment while making his weekly trip to the Dallas Childrens’ Hospital.
Make-A-Wish is the largest wish-granting charity in the world with 80 chapters in the U.S. and 20 international affiliates on five continents. It is funded through private donations and the efforts of more than 18,000 creative wish granting volunteers.
Since its inception in 1980, the organization has granted 73,000 wishes to kids up to age 17, who are enduring a life-threatening diseases. About 9,000 wishes were granted last year alone.
The Star Power delivery truck had a firetruck escort to his house, courtesy of the Gun Barrel City Volunteer Fire Department.

Monitor Photos/Pearl Cantrell
Reno Martinez smiles while playing games on his new 360XBox game center on a LCD flat-screen television monitor, part of a wish come true from The Make-a-Wish Foundation of North Texas, and delivered just before Christmas to his Valentine Shores home. BELOW: Reno also got to take a ride in a firetruck, courtesy of the Gun Barrel City Volunteer Fire Department.

Reno was thrilled to meet and talk with volunteer firefighter Bobby Nix and Lt. Colby McBride. The two brought a gift from area firemen – an autographed yellow firefighter’s helmet.
While the installers were busy at work rearranging furniture and running wire under the carpet for the surround sound system, Reno, his siblings and a few friends, who joined him for the festivities, were given turns riding in the firetruck.
Reno Martinez couldn’t stop smiling as one thrill followed another.
A pizza party had also been arranged with Milano’s Pizza in Seven Points, and a new-found friend, Tony Ciardo from the West Cedar Creek Municipal Utility District, stopped by to add his Christmas wishes to Reno’s.
Employees of WCCMUD adopted the family three months ago, soon after it was discovered that Reno had a rare life-threatening bone disease.

Monitor Photo/Pearl Cantrell
Volunteer firefighter Bobby Nix (left) and Lt. Colby McBride pose with their new friend Reno Martinez at his house in Valentine Shores.

District employees learned Linda and John Jacobs had been taking care of their six grandchildren, ranging in age from 3 to 14, for nearly four years, and have had legal custody for the last two years.
The WCCMUD staff have done a great deal to give the family an assist, including rewiring the telephone and repairing the bathroom floor in the three-bedroom manufactured home.
Employees also brought in a new cookstove, purchased and set up a wooden bunk bed/dresser/desk unit to provide better sleeping arrangements for the kids, provided gasoline for the family’s hospital trips to Dallas and provided funds to take the edge off the daily financial strain this family has been enduring.
“The staff has met all the kids,” Ciardo told The Monitor. Many employees have baby-sat so Linda could go to her own doctor’s appointments without anyone in tow.
Linda is diabetic, and hadn’t paid much attention to it in her concern for Reno’s health. Ciardo made sure her insulin treatments were resumed and saw to it she went to the dentist. Now, she’s waiting for a set of dentures.
“I’m sorry I met them under these circumstances, but I’m glad to call Tony and them friends,” Linda said. “We had been doing everything by ourselves. We’ve outgrown the car.
“I do the best I can with these children,” she said, adding every other sentence that she wouldn’t be without them.
“This is the first time we’ve gotten help, and so much of it, all at one time,” she said in tears.
“I didn’t know there were so many kind people willing to help us.”

Monitor Photo/Pearl Cantrell
Reno Martinez tries on the firefighter helmet Bobby Nix presented to him on behalf of area firefighters as their gift to him.