Francisca Flores told her story of how she had her first job at the age of 6 years old in Mexico. She eventually married and had 6 children. Her husband was an abusive man and would not permit her to work, only to stay home and take care of the children. They divorced after 20 or more years, and Francisca was left with her children (3 of whom were now out of the house) and the other 3 with whom she lived with in a 1 bedroom apartment. Two of the younger children slept with her in her bed and the older boy slept of the sofa. Being untrained, Francisca found a job doing janitorial work. Eventually she went to work with K-Mart up in Grass Valley. Over time, with her hard work and dedication, she was made a manager of her department. Working full time and raising her children, Francisca went to school. I forgot which community college, but she studies in the evening and is working on her degree. With all of this, she still put in the 500 'Sweat Equity' hours that is required to qualify for a Habitat Home. While she stood before us in the hall, she started to cry as she told us how she felt when she received the keys to her new home...it was so moving.
Dan Wilson, who is the head of building and the head of our Green building 'Charette' introduced me to the room, kindly saying that he couldn't say enough about me. He said that since I started working with them I had not charged them a dime. When you hear the stories of the families that have worked so hard and suffered so much in the way of trials and tribulations, but always went forward with their hopes and their dreams, creating a landscape design is not about being paid with money; it's about the joy I receive knowing that I can contribute in some way.