New house for needy family living in a shack


The family had been living in a shack exposed to the elements -- the heat, the cold, the rain -- and to the critters in rural Kendleton. Today they got the keys to a house those who built it say they just kept looking out its windows at that shack knowing they had to give the family a better home.

With hands outstretched, a prayer is said for the home so many of those hands helped build.

Fighting tears as they saw the inside for the first time, the Portillo family today got the keys to their new home.

"Like you win the lottery," said grandfather Jose Portillo.

He, his wife and their three grandchildren lived in that shack for three years. No bathroom. No running water. No heat. No air conditioning. The roof leaks. Their bedrooms were cramped. The only electricty was recently supplied by a single extention cord running inside.

Several years back, a church group handing out Christmas gifts came across the family. Ray Medellin with Disciples of God's Son remembers.

"The first thing I thought was what if those were my children out there? I would want somebody to do something for them," Medellin said.

And they did. Building the 1,200 square foot, 3 bedroom, 1 bath home, just feet from that old shack. Volunteers from Fort Bend Corps, The Home Depot, the Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office and many other companies donated time, effort and goods. Gallery Furniture donated a house full of furniture.

The Portillo family is forever thankful. Certainly this will make a difference in these children's lives. From the 4-year-old boy who is intrigued by cabinets the likes of which he's never seen before to the 10-year-old girl who gets her very own room now with flowers painted on the walls. It's a dream come true.

The family has expressed repeated gratitude -- thanks to so many people who they have never even met before today who made this Christmas so special.

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