A place to call home

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Randi Hales, left, and her two sons, Dontaie, middle, and Alex are hoping to move into their home built by Habitat for Humanity within the next year.

By Argen Duncan: Freedom New Mexico

Randi Hales of Clovis likes camping, but to make a stable home for her sons, she believed a house — one she would own — was in order.

She’s on her way to seeing that happen with help from Habitat for Humanity of Roosevelt and Curry Counties Inc.

Hales, 28, is the prospective owner of a new Habitat house being built at 1625 Cameo St. in Clovis. Groundbreaking was last Saturday.

Hales and her sons, 6-year-old Dontaie Jones and 11-year-old Alex Zapata, have been living in a rental house with no backyard.

“I just want a home for my kids,” she said.

Hales said it’s an issue of stability. And she would like to leave the boys something when she’s gone.

Dontaie wants a puppy and a trampoline in their new backyard.

Hales grew up in Portales and moved to Rockport, Texas, at age 15. After finishing high school, she returned to New Mexico, where Alex was the last baby delivered at the old Roosevelt General Hospital on 18th Street.

Since 1999, Hales has lived in Clovis. She’s worked in medical billing for seven years.

In 2006, Hales earned a cosmetology certification and an associate degree from Clovis Community College. However, after a few months of working in cosmetology, she wasn’t earning enough to make ends meet, so she returned to medical billing.

Although Hales looked into buying a house, she never earned enough to qualify for a loan and didn’t expect to be able to afford a home for 10 or 15 years. However, her income made her eligible for a Habitat house, and Hales said the no-interest loan offered lower payments and the ability to pay it off sooner.

About a week before their selection as a “partner family” earlier this summer, Alex and Hales started helping with a recently completed Habitat house in Portales. They have finished 150 of the 300 hours of unpaid work with the organization they need to get the keys to their own house, Habitat President Joyce Davis said.

“She’s just been amazing,” Davis said, adding that Hales is easy to work with and a great painter.

Hales said she learned a lot by helping finish the Portales house, and the people were nice and willing to teach.

“It’s an all-around good experience to be around people who care and who are doing it for nothing,” Hales said.

Davis said she expects to build a three-bedroom, two-bathroom house for the family, with volunteer work starting in a month or more.