Dulce Pelayo talks with her son Cristian, 5, right, as her husband, Will, behind, examines their new home’s refrigerator with his niece Friday during an ceremony dedicating the house to the family. The Pelayos’ new home was built by Bend Area Habitat for Humanity and was provided to them by the nonprofit First Story. – Rob Kerr / The Bulletin
By Megan Kehoe / The Bulletin
A picket fence. Flowers blooming in the front yard. A view of a grassy park across the street. A home smelling of fresh paint. These are images Dulce Pelayo, 26, and Will Pelayo, 28, have been dreaming of for eight months, ever since they found out they’d been selected to receive their own home from First Story. Friday, that dream became reality.
“I don’t have words to express how happy I feel today,” Will Pelayo said. “I feel really great.”
The Pelayos received the keys to a brand-new three-bedroom, two-story home on Lancaster Street in northeast Bend. This is the fifth house the local nonprofit organization, First Story, has dedicated to a low-income family in the Bend area since it was founded 13 years ago.
“When you see how much it means to the family, it really leaves you speechless,” Claire Duncan, development director with First Story, said. “It never gets old.”
The Pelayo home came with an interest-free, 30-year loan, which requires the family to pay about $600 a month, First Story Executive Director Shon Rae said.
The home required no down payment from the family.
Bend Area Habitat for Humanity built the structure in partnership with First Story.
The Pelayos were selected to receive the house because they met income requirements, First Story Selection Committee Member Michael Hinton said. The couple were also chosen because of their strength of character.
“It was clear that despite the many difficult situations they faced, they consistently made the right decisions in light of that difficulty,” Hinton said.
At 16, Dulce Pelayo became pregnant, left home, and became a resident at Grandma’s House, an organization that shelters pregnant teens who are abused or homeless. She never dreamed that one day she would own her own home.
Ten years later, Dulce has two children and is a full-time student at Central Oregon Community College. Will Pelayo works full-time at Avion Water Co. The busy couple have been married for seven years, living in a small apartment in Bend. Now they’re venturing into a new phase of their lives.
“I’m very excited that the day has finally come,” Dulce Pelayo said. “I’m ready to start a new chapter.”
With the home finally complete, First Story threw a dedication ceremony for the Pelayo’s friends and family Friday.
“It was a long journey to get where we’re at,” Dulce Pelayo said to the crowd of supporters at the dedication ceremony. “Everyone’s inspired us and helped us, and we’re so thankful to be here.”
Now that the family has keys to the home, some members are already planning to make improvements to the house.
“I want to paint my room light purple,” said Annalee Pelayo, 9. “Then I want to decorate it with butterflies and birds.”
Annalee is also looking forward to having slumber parties, and her parents are currently in the market for bunk beds for such occasions. Dulce Pelayo said she can’t wait to have family gatherings and to cook big dinners in the new, spacious home. The mother of two also said she can picture her children growing up happily in the new home for years to come. “It’s great that they can offer this opportunity to our family,” Dulce Pelayo said. “It’s just a dream come true.”
Megan Kehoe can be reached at 541-383-0354 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.