Rudy Louis wanted a house for his family.
It was why he had moved from Haiti seven years ago to an apartment in Northwest Miami — the chance to provide wife Gina and daughter Sheina, 9, with safety and prosperity for the rest of their lives.
Thursday morning, Louis received the keys to that dream during a Habitat for Humanity dedication ceremony: a Liberty City house with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a backyard.
“This is the house of my life,” he said. “This is the life of my dreams.”
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The Miami chef had chosen the house because its location had the proximity to public transportation and the safety he wanted for his family. Before the dedication ceremony, he had helped paint and construct his new home.
“When you see a family that has a gotten lots of no’s suddenly get a yes, it’s actually rather fulfilling,” said Mario Artecona, the CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Miami.
While the house itself was built mostly by Habitat for Humanity volunteers, the formerly empty lot was obtained through the Bank of America Property Donation program.
“When we look at a community such as this and we can provide a foundation to a family for them to evolve and progress,” said Vania Laguerre, a resident director at the Merrill Lynch office in Aventura. “That is the greatest opportunity we can give to anyone.”
Bank employees arrived early to transform the gravel lot into a grassy yard. After hours of planting and watering sod, trees, and bushes, the seven volunteers smiled and snapped pictures as Sheina envisioned the garden that could be planted and marveled at the size of her own bedroom.
While the house is now lined with freshly planted bushes and fledgling trees, it will still stand empty for a few more weeks as the final touches are put in place: an air conditioner, tile, and furniture. The family will buy the house at appraised value, but will not have to pay interest.
As he walked out of his new home, Louis couldn’t find the words to describe his happiness.
But Sheina, leaning out of a newly painted doorway, said she knew what to say: “It’s awesome.”