Pope Francis Build: Helping two Wichita families in need of a home

Newman University partnered with Habitat for Humanity and the Catholic Diocese of Wichita to help two families in need of a new home. Both families are headed by working single mothers who are fighting to keep their children in school and keep them safe.

Newman University Student Government President Brandon Golhofer (left) and Newman University Faculty Senate President John McCormick (right) break in the build with Blanca Fernandez and her daughter. Photo credit: Christopher Riggs, Catholic Advance
Newman University Student Government President Brandon Golhofer (left) and Newman University Faculty Senate President John McCormick (right) break in the build with Blanca Fernandez and her daughter. Photo credit: Christopher Riggs, Catholic Advance

The Most Rev. Carl E. Kemme, Bishop of the Wichita Catholic Diocese, blessed the ground on which the houses will be built. “It is not shameful to be poor,” Bishop Kemme said during the blessing. “It is shameful to have more than what we need and not share it with those in need.”

The project, “Pope Francis Build,” is dedicated to Pope Francis and broke ground on Aug. 27, 2015. Bishop Kemme said “This build reflects Pope Francis when he said, ‘The measure of the greatness of a society is found in the way it treats those most in need.'”

Blanca Fernandez

One of the homes is being built for Blanca Fernandez and her children, who now share a two-bedroom house with her parents. They struggle to be comfortable doing things like cooking meals or getting ready for work and school. Fernandez is a hard-working single mother who is ready to provide a safe, stable home for her children.

Being able to buy a home from Habitat will benefit my family in many ways. I truly believe it will impact my children’s lives forever: I want to prove to my children that I can provide them a home where they can grow up with dignity and have a place to call home. I am a hard-working mother willing to work hard to provide for my children and myself. I pray to God that we will see the light again and trust there are better times for us.

~ Blanca Fernandez

Michelle Johnson

The other home is being built for Michelle Johnson. She wrote a list of five goals for herself and her family in 2012. She has accomplished all but one and will be able to cross off the final goal this year: “Save for a down payment.”

I believe Habitat for Humanity is the right program for me and my family, because I want my children and I to have a home we can call our own. The neighborhood we live in is not very safe at all. I would love to become a homeowner and know my kids are safe in their own community. I want to be able to show my kids that if you work hard for what you want you will be able to get it. When I told my four kids about the program and that I would be working to become a homeowner their faces lit up, and that’s priceless! Hopefully they will follow my footsteps one day and become homeowners.

~ Michelle Johnson

If you would like to help Fernandez and Johnson make their dreams come true, contact Monica Borger at http://go.newmanu.edu/borgerm to volunteer for the Pope Francis Build project.

Feature Photograph: Pictured from left to right: Newman University Campus Ministry Administrative Assistant Monica Borger; Blanca Fernandez and daughter; Student Government President Brandon Golhofer; Newman University Provost Michael Austin, Ph.D.; Newman University Staff Assembly President Daniel Murphy; Newman University Faculty Senate President John McCormick, Ph.D. Photo credit: Christopher Riggs, Catholic Advance



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