Thanks to joint community efforts, a home in Prosper was redone in time for the holidays so one couple could celebrate Christmas — and ring in the new year — in a place of their own. After elderly couple Jesse and Lupe Martinez had their primary residence destroyed in a fire, the employees of several local Home Depot stores, including the one in Sherman, got together and converted a home in Prosper, similar to HGTV’s “Fixer Upper” home renovation show, so the couple could enter their new home on Dec. 21.
Jesse and Lupe Martinez lost their home, as well as all of their belongings, to a fire at the start of 2017. The fire left the couple hospitalized for months afterward, according to Denise Baxter, store manager of the Denton Home Depot. They then moved in with their two daughters, who have homes next door and across the street from their home. The size of the homes made space a difficulty, but the girls were happy to take care of their parents.
Baxter said that several months ago, Habitat for Humanity came out and put in new windows, doors and siding on an old building that had once been the storage unit/workshop at the back of the lot where the house had burned down. Habitat for Humanity told the family that this was all the assistance they could provide, but they suggested they contact the Home Depot for further assistance. They put the family in touch with then-associate manager Mannie Gonzales at location 6809. The Martinez family secured a $5,000 grant and were told that another group offered to do the Sheetrock and paint for the shed they were working on converting. The family had the electric and some plumbing done through a licensed family member, and also receiving additional needed materials from the Home Depot.
“The city of Prosper have been terrific partners in getting the Martinez family back in their home,” Baxter said. “They have worked to get inspectors out to work with us through the process and provided an open top trash bin for the project.”
However, after starting the project, Baxter said the Home Depot workers learned that no one was helping the family continue work, and they lacked the resources to continue turning the building into a home.
“We could not simply Sheetrock the building and leave them in their same situation,” Baxter said.
The renovation project began on Dec. 8 with the goal of moving the couple into their new home in time for Christmas. The family was told the workers would be doing the Sheetrock and grinding down the floors to prepare for new flooring.
“We did have them come in and check out the Sheetrock and new paint before starting the grinding,” Baxter said. “Lupe was in tears as she rubbed the walls. She explained she was so thankful for those walls, that she and Jesse had never owned anything ‘new’ their entire lives.”
Baxter let the couple know that it would take a week to grind the floors and that it was unsafe for the couple to enter the dwelling during the period. A grateful Lupe and family brought home cooked food to the workers everyday. Baxter said the family was always grateful and overwhelmed by the amount of people showing up to help out.
On Dec. 21, Baxter and the team — made up of workers from several local Home Depot locations — brought Lupe and Jesse into their new home for the first time. The home was fully furnished, with every essential item provided for. A special ramp for Jesse’s wheelchair was also built leading up to the house and light landscaping was performed as well.
“Our team decorated for Christmas, including a tree and presents,” Baxter said. “The Martinez family was shocked and amazed by what our team had accomplished. Somehow we were able to make it all happen without their knowing. They could not believe their old building is now a beautiful new home for them.”
This incredible feat was made possible by the Home Depot associates in the district donating their time and talent to making the gift of a new home possible. The workers also donated home and furniture items to the Martinez couple. Many local contractors donated time and/or items to the project. Carl’s Handyman, a general contractor business in Denton, had one of the workers help in the house; he also purchased a new television and contributed some furniture. Robert Scott, from the Denton Home Depot, purchased a new bed for Lupe and Jesse. Elevated Roofing came out to look at a leak and replaced the whole roof in the converted home. Mike Alcala from Alcala Plumbing installed the water heater. Denton Home Depot associates provided all of the remaining furniture — with the exception of chairs from the Gainesville Home Depot.
The renovation was a joint effort from many Home Depot employees. Workers with remodeling experience taught other associates how to tile, Sheetrock, lay floors and more. Employees and managers from Home Depot locations in Denton, McKinney, Allen, Frisco, Gainesville and Sherman came to work on the home daily.
The second bedroom in the house will be completed once the plumbing and electrical is inspected. With the completion of the water heater on Dec. 23, the house should be declared ready for the family to move in — making the goal of the couple having their own home for Christmas a reality.
“I have no words to express how thankful and proud I am to work for a company that lives and breathes our values,” Baxter said. “We are allowed and supported to go in the community to help those in need and give back.”