Poverty still lives well in the 21st century. “We want to help poor families, one family at a time, get their own home to live in and raise their family,” said Jana Thatch, co-elder on the Missions Committee for First Presbyterian Church of Newhall. “We want to uplift families out of poverty. Their own home is the first step.”
First Pres has a long history of homebuilding for the desperately poor with our neighbors to the south in greater Tijuana. Describing 22 years of church history, Thatch said that in the fall and spring, members of the church have organized, financed and led groups of 10 to 20 individuals in these home-building trips.
“We purchase all the building materials, work really hard for two days, sleep at a secure campsite and build relationships with the families and community,” Thatch said, describing the homes as an 11- by 22-foot enclosure, with a concrete floor, a good solid roof, stucco exterior, windows and a door.
“The smiles of the children when they see their new home taking shape make all the effort worthwhile,” she said.
To build the homes, the Church of Newhall partners with AMOR Ministries, which was formed 36 years ago. According to Thatch, AMOR has close ties with the local pastors who select the families, and a review of their website shows their moniker is “Come Build Hope.”
Due to COVID-19, the church’s last four scheduled trips were cancelled, but according to Thatch, the church still sponsored the construction of five new homes during this period.
AMOR has mobilized local community volunteers and hired short-term workers to build the homes, Thatch said. She describes it as a “win-win program,” adding that the families still get a new home and local workers in the communities get much-needed good-paying jobs.
Each family who receives a home is in desperate need, Thatch said, adding she was told that the last family that received a Newhall Church home in May was described as follows: They are a family where the father provides for his family by working as a truck driver, making about $60 a week. His wife is a stay-at-home mom, and their sons are enrolled in elementary/middle school. The roof of their current home is in poor condition and made of tarp and plywood.
The floor is compacted dirt. Thatch said that their living situation would improve 100% with this new home that is being financed by First Pres.
The bad news to Thatch was that the church cancelled its usual October trip for this year, and their usual trip after Easter is on hold. In spite of this, she says the church is sponsoring yet another home. Since the cost of building materials has skyrocketed in Mexico, Thatch said that the church is fundraising to build another home.
“We will never turn down any contributions to build a house,” Thatch said, adding that if anyone would like to contribute, they can do so online at https://presby-newhall.org. According to Thatch, the fund for AMOR is listed there.