LINDSAY — Nathor See pointed to the inscription on what will soon
be the front porch of her new home on Princeton Street.
Written in the concrete were two names: Valerie and Matthew.
"I'm building this house for my children," See, 23, said.
See and her husband, Seekham, 24, are one of 33 Lahu and Hmong
families building their homes in a Lindsay neighborhood with the aid
of Visalia-based Self-Help Enterprises.
They are doing much of the work themselves in place of a down
Their home will have four bedrooms and two baths. They hope to
move in before Thanksgiving.
"All the families that we serve are low-income and typically do
not have the opportunity that local families have in providing them
with safe and stable neighborhoods," said Self-Help program manager
Liz Wynn. "We've improved their chances for success in life."
Self-Help Enterprises has helped more than 5,300 low-income
families build homes in the Valley since 1965.
Nathor See, born in Thailand after her Lahu family fled Laos,
immigrated to Visalia in 1989. She studied accounting at the College
of the Sequoias. She, her husband and their two children rent a
three-bedroom, one-bath house in Tulare.
"I can't wait to have Thanksgiving with my family in our own
home," See said.
Around the corner, on Monte Vista Drive, Jack, John and Peter
Chang are building a house for their Hmong parents, Yer Chang and Sy
"We owe it to our parents," said Jack Chang, 25, a meatcutter.
On Wednesday, two teams of families were painting roofs of two
different houses. The men sat on top of their roofs installing the
roof sheeting. The women were standing on ladders to paint the sides
of the roof.
"These families get to work with their new neighbors building
each other's houses," Wynn said. "It helps the families build a
sense of community and pride and ownership of their own homes."
Further assistance from a youth fel— lowship based in Arizona is
moving the construction ahead of schedule by four to six weeks, said
youth pastor Neil Gatten of La Casa de Cristo Lutheran Church.
The Scottsdale-based youth ministry brought 140 students and 20
adult chaperones to help build homes in Fresno, Lindsay, Del Rey and
Earlimart. The group arrived Saturday and is staying at the Visalia
"We are here to serve our fellow man," said adult chaperone Jim
Shelley, 45, vice president of land development for Cachet Homes in
Sixty student volunteers have painted homes, set up water
heaters, installed roof sheeting and raised wood frames in Lindsay.
"I didn't think that we could do so much in four days," said
Arizona high school student Sarah Werner, 14. "I was interested in
carpentry when I was younger. Now, I know how to use a hammer and
can build a treehouse."
The group is leaving Friday but the church has another
construction project for the Palomino community in Arizona.
According to Shelley, the church will begin construction of six
homes this fall through volunteer labor.
The church will work with local trade organizations to help the
new residents learn skills to get better jobs in construction.
"We're combining the self-help concept with job training
experience," he said.
Self-Help enterprises construction supervisor Pablo Reynoso said
this is his first project and he's eager to see the new homeowners
"It's a neat experience to watch these people as they experience
the joy of owning their own homes that they built themselves," he
said. "They have sweat equity."
The reporter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally published June 23, 2005