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Brianna Ramos-Gasca checks out her new bedroom at a Keizer home built by Habitat for Humanity. Girl Scouts who led her to the room – and helped decorate – wait in the hallway. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

Of the Keizertimes

In the course of eight days, Salem Habitat for Humanity handed over the keys to two new Keizer families.

On Saturday, Feb. 3, Construction Manager Dave Connell presented the Ramos-Gasca family with their keys to half of a new duplex on Alexis Lane North in Keizer. The family of four – including mother and father, Arturo and Sara, and daughters, Brianna and Jessica – were welcomed by Habitat staff and volunteers and led through the home for the first time by members of Girl Scout Troop 10048 and Brownie Troop 10133.

“It’s something we’ve dreamt about for a long time,” said Sara, after accepting the keys. “There is no way, shape or form that we could have pulled this off without each and every one of you, that’s a guarantee.”

The build was sponsored, in large part, by Thrivent Financial, which has contributed more than $800,000 to Salem Habitat over the course of its last eight builds. A week prior to the Ramos-Gascas getting its keys, Habitat handed over the keys to the Ramos-Gasca’s new neighbors, the Wuelfing family.

The Ramos-Gasca family, Arturo, Sara, Jessica and Brianna, with Habitat construction manager Dave Connell. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)
The Ramos-Gasca family, Arturo, Sara, Jessica and Brianna, with Habitat construction manager Dave Connell. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

Heather Wilson, Habitat’s director of programs and volunteer engagement, was brought to tears as she talked about how involved the family was in construction of the home and how they were there in spirit when they couldn’t be there physically.

“When I think of this family, the single word that comes to mind is gratitude. They said thank you time and time again to donors, volunteers, made homemade salsa and chips and cookies and delivered it to the job site,” Wilson said. “The girls are old enough and crafty enough and had it in their heart to make cards and posters with messages with candy bars in them. There is no family more deserving than the Ramos-Gascas.”

The family had been paying $900 a month for a residence in which one room was completely uninhabitable because of a severe mold problem. When colder weather arrived, it pushed the family’s utility bills into the hundreds of dollars.

“As a mom, you want to give your children a stable foundation. You want to be that foundation and you want the doors to forever be open. I want this to be (our daughters’) home and because of you guys we get to have those memories,” Sara said.

Ron Mohr, a representative with Thrivent Financial, said that someone asked him a while ago how big the home was, but Mohr said that missed the point.

“What’s more important is the memories that they’ll have with all who enter,” he said.