ALLOUEZ – The Francis Effect is a real phenomenon. Just ask Alberto Castro and his wife Elizabeth Gomez. The Green Bay couple and their 5-year-old son Oliver were selected by Green Bay Habitat for Humanity to be recipients of a Habitat home in honor of Pope Francis.
The family was on hand at a press conference to announce the project, dubbed the Pope Francis Home, March 20 at Melania Hall on the diocesan grounds. Also present were Bishop David Ricken, Cora Haltaufderheid, Green Bay Habitat for Humanity executive director, and Vern Peterson, Habitat board chairman.
An anonymous donor is providing $60,000 for construction of a new Habitat home, to be built on Chicago Court, a street on Green Bay’s east side. “When we accepted the challenge, we agreed to raise the additional $40,000 locally to complete the build for a very deserving family,” said Peterson.
“We also agreed to honor Pope Francis for his commitment to social justice, provide unity to both Catholics and non-Catholics alike to work towards a very common goal and further Habitat’s mission to build homes. With this challenge we need the help of the community – physically, financially and spiritually,” added Peterson.
“On behalf of the faithful from throughout the diocese, I am humbled to join our brothers and sisters throughout community for this special announcement and invitation to participate in this historic project,” Bishop Ricken said. “Isn’t it wonderful that somebody stepped up to the plate and made that considerable donation? What a beautiful gift we’ve been given through the generosity of a stranger to truly change the life of our local family.”
It isn’t the first time the anonymous donor funded a Habitat for Humanity home in honor of Pope Francis. Since 2014, other houses have been built in Asheville, N.C., Portland, Ore., St. Louis and Milwaukee.
“I know the gentleman … is donating to 10 homes in 2015,” Haltaufderheid said. “I know the donor is from out of state. He actually selects the communities himself.”
Construction on the Pope Francis Home begins in May and is scheduled to be completed by next September.
Gomez and Castro, who are members of St. Willebrord Parish, said they were thankful to the donor and to Habitat for Humanity for the opportunity to own their own home.
“We will like to thank God first, for the countless blessing s that we have received from him, as well as Pope Francis for the honor of sponsoring our house and our spiritual home,” said Gomez.” Most especially we want to thank Habitat for Humanity for giving us an opportunity to build our new house.”
Haltaufderheid is asking the community to make the Pope Francis Home a reality by helping to raise the additional $40,000 and by volunteering in the home construction.
“So we need volunteers, we need donations,” she said. “We have a website, gbpopebuild.org. As a community and organization we can do this. … Come back and join us in September when we are finalizing this home and we welcome (Gomez and Castro) into their new home.”
To donate or to volunteer, contact Habitat for Humanity at (920) 593-3921.