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Church volunteers provide new life with home makeover (Video)

By Sonny Long
May 25, 2013 at 12:25 a.m.
Updated May 26, 2013 at 12:26 a.m.

As Peggy Perez, left, hangs sheetrock in Ramiro and Minga Ybarra's house, Rosa Caminorreal paints the front of the house from atop a ladder. The two volunteered with Faith Family Church's Project Elevation on April 27. Ramiro Ybarra said that to ask anyone for help with the house "was too embarrassing," so he asked God for help, and he was approached by the church for the repair work.

Ramiro Ybarra can now pray for rain - even at his house - and with Saturday's downpour, his saving grace couldn't have been more timely.

The Ybarra home, in the 2500 block of Dogwood Street, received an extensive makeover from Faith Family Church members and other volunteers, including repairing a roof with multiple holes.

The revamped house was unveiled to the Ybarras on Saturday.

"When I would pray for rain, I'd always say, 'Please, God, not at my house.' I had to put buckets everywhere," said Ybarra, 63, who shares the home with his wife of 47 years, Minga, daughter, Elva, and granddaughter Samantha.

The family was surprised when they entered the house they had been away from during five weeks of renovation.

"It's beautiful, so beautiful," said Minga. "Thank you, Jesus! I'm overwhelmed. Glory be to Jesus."

The renovation was part of Faith Family's Project Elevation and took place during its Servolution week.

"We have a week dedicated to outreach events. We try to motivate our church members to go out in the community and serve in different areas," said Mark Longoria, the church's community outreach pastor.

"I tied in Project Elevation with the week because it fell at the right time," Longoria said. "We help people in need, usually senior citizens or someone who is ill. Someone will bring a situation to our attention, and we get together a team of good Samaritans and get it done."

The plight of the Ybarras came to the church's attention through Constantine Stoilis, a retired dentist and member of a prayer group with the Ybarras.

"We have been in a prayer group together for more than 30 years, and they never once complained," Stoilis said. "I found out on a Sunday night about two months ago that they had 10 holes in their roof. They were living in terrible conditions."

David Johns was the general contractor for the renovation.

"We fixed the roof, but when we got into the house, we discovered a lot more that needed done," Johns said. "We gutted the house down to the studs."

More than 40 volunteers worked on the project replacing floors, ceiling tiles, paneling, appliances, furniture, rewiring the home and installing central air and heat.

They had five window units, and only three of them worked, Johns said.

Volunteer Scott Boepple said Ybarra knew the roof was being fixed but had no idea how extensive the renovations would be.

"He knew we were going to do our best to fix it up as good as possible," Boepple said. "We wanted to create something that would be a blessing to him and far surpass their expectations."

Elva Ybarra was as impressed as her parents.

"It's absolutely beautiful. It doesn't even look like the same house," she said. "This is something we've been wanting for a long time, for my parents to restore the house.

"I'm amazed at our church community and friends of the family who volunteered their time to do this. It's overwhelming."

Her daughter, 14-year-old Samantha, agreed.

"It's awesome. It's amazing. It's the work of God," she said.

Ramrio also sees the divine intervention in the project.

"Without Jesus, we wouldn't be here," he said, addressing the group of volunteers who gathered to share the unveiling with the family. "We are so thankful. Bless everyone."

Ybarra, a disabled Army veteran, also recalled his days as a plumber when he often would not charge the elderly for repairs.

"When you put your hands on something to help, it comes back to you," he said. "It has come back to me today."

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