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Everything is Bigger in Texas! June 14th, 2012

by Terrie Vacek

Home Dedication - New Beginnings and New Friendships

"This was my wildest fantasy and an answer to my prayers." Tory Kitchens

June 14th is a day that Habitat for Humanity new home owner Tory Kitchens and her three sons will never forget. The Catholic Daughters of the Americas (CDA) Texas State Court in celebration of their 95th anniversary sponsored her home.

Texas proudly boasts as the first state to sponsor the 2004 CDA Habitat for Humanity build in Corpus Christi which was co-sponsored by the National CDA Order. Texas followed with builds in Wichita Falls, 2007; Mexico, 2008; Eagle Lake, 2011; and Victoria, 2012. Past National Regent Libby Ramirez, Victoria; State Regent Malik, Shiner; and 2nd Vice State Regent Eve Trevino, Corpus Christi; have worked on all five Texas sponsored Habitat builds.

At the ground breaking, Golden Crescent Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Cynthia Staley commented, "Look at the scripture your State Regent Carolyn Malik has selected for your t-shirt; with each nail hammered, understand that God is prodding us to live well; it’s for Tory and for our Divine Carpenter."

Catholic Daughters from twenty three (23) courts across Texas gathered in Victoria on the opening day of construction raising voices in song and praise before raising every interior and exterior wall to the house. Reverend Most Honorable Bishop David Fellhauer, Victoria, blessed the ground, volunteers, and materials.

Reverend John Peters, JCDA State Chaplain, Vicar General of the Diocese of Victoria, presided over the blessing and dedication of the home on June 14th saying, "May this be a home of love, built on solid ground. Hold fast to your faith in God with your whole heart."

Tory shared that her involvement with Habitat has led her to other positive moves such as earning her G.E.D. and securing better employment with her new skills. Tory said, "The sky is the limit. I want to be a good role model for my boys by actions and decisions. This home was my wildest fantasy and an answer to my prayers."

On behalf of Texas CDA members, State Regent Malik presented Tory with a gift card. Malik said, "I am proud of our Catholic Daughters who came forward with monetary donation or donations of food and much amateur labor to provide a home for Tory. It is a great and humble feeling to know we helped a deserving young lady have a home of her very own to raise her family… We are grateful to all those who worked to make Tory’s dream come true."

Bethany Hamilton, author of Soul Surfer, made a special appearance to celebrate the dedication presenting Tory with a family Bible prior to sharing her inspirational story of faith and endurance at the Habitat for Humanity fund raiser. Her inspiring story of how she overcame all odds to move forward after losing her arm in a shark attack serves as an encouragement and a vision of hope for everyone. Bethany said, "I am glad to be here. I honor God in all I do and try to give back to the community. My strength comes from my relationship with Christ and from the love and encouragement of my family and friends."

Media personnel from television, newspaper, banking and PR for Bethany Hamilton crowded around the Kitchens family as CDA State Regent Carolyn Malik presented Tory a large ‘Gold House Key’ with signatures of those who worked in support of her new home. Texas CDA has established a tradition, on the day the walls are raised, by leaving messages of blessings and congratulations on the studs of each Habitat home built by CDA members. With great joy and appreciation, twelve year old Troy Kitchens looked around for just the right wall on which he and his mother could hang the signature Habitat key!

From Texarkana to the Mexican border, Catholic Daughters throughout Texas continue to make road trips to Victoria each Friday and Saturday in order to make the home ready for the August 1st move-in date. Tory and her sons, Daylen, Devin, and Troy have spent many sweat hours making their dream come true.

With donations from numerous organizations, businesses, and volunteers including the Knights of Columbus, CDA members in partnership with Golden Crescent Habitat for Humanity Victoria will complete construction in July.

Among those who worked on site were Immediate Past State Regent Sheila Martinka, Houston; First Vice State Regent Peggy Rosales, Austin; State Secretary Rosie Stockwell, Edinburg; State Treasurer Melodie Brunt, Texarkana; CDA State Habitat Chairman, Janie Rubio and Vice Chair Beatriz Gonzalez, Victoria; State Chairmen; District Deputies; and CDA members across Texas.

With determination and unwavering faith, Tory Kitchens, like Bethany and along with all the volunteers that dedicate hundreds of hours on habitat builds, moved past struggles and mere survival to thriving and making a positive difference in their families and communities.