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Arias Family Update

Posted on April 12, 2023

The Ripple Effect of Homeownership:

The definition of real change is to become different, to undergo transformation or transition. For the Arias family of Neenah, Wisconsin they know all too well the difference change can make.

In 2009, the Arias family became homeowners through Fox Cities Habitat’s Homebuyer program. We conducted a follow-up interview with Kathryn, Martin, Sebastian and Rebecca to highlight the long-term impacts that occur when families are offered a needed hand up to purchase a safe and affordable home.

Watch the video below to catch up with the Arias family!

Arias Family Update

Low-income housing leads to health problems:

Martin Arias and Kathryn Noll-Arias started their family in an apartment. Sebastian was their first-born, followed by Jenavive and lastly Rebecca. Raising their kids in an apartment and eventually a low-rent home was never ideal, but it was what the family could afford. Unfortunately, when Kathryn became pregnant with Rebecca, the family fell on hard times.

“I was very, very sick. I wasn’t able to work and Martin had to be off work to help me raise Sebastian and Jenavive. We had a really tough time, financially and everything else,” explained Kathryn.

By the time Rebecca was born, the family was living in a simple rental home that was what they could afford, but it wasn’t safe.

“So, all three of us have asthma right now. We had black mold in our basement. I remember the smell and whenever I smell mold, I remember that,” explained Sebastian.

Fox Cities Habitat offers hope:

The family had to cope with the challenges of their home because it was all they could afford. Eventually Kathryn decided to reach out to Greater Fox Cities Area Habitat for Humanity for some help. That’s when the Arias family became a part of the Homebuyer program and began putting in the 500 hours of “sweat equity” required by the program to learn to be a successful homeowner.

“You don’t take unless you need,” said Kathryn. “From a young age, I always knew to give more than you receive.”

The Arias family helped on several Habitat projects, and they made sure to bring their children along as well. They wanted to instill the value of taking care of others with their kids. This work also helped the Arias family find the home they eventually would call their own. After more than a year of building and restoring, the Arias family could move into their new home, thanks to Habitat for Humanity.

“I mean it was amazing, just the smell of the house,” Martin said. “I laid down on the floor and said ‘this is mine.’ This is the future for our kids. That was a good feeling.”

Legacy of giving back lives on:

Now, as the Arias children become young adults, they look at what their parents were able to accomplish as a result of the Habitat for Humanity home they grew up in and they’re filled with gratitude.

“I hope to get an education and get a job that I have a passion for and enjoy. It’s very nice to see that my parents have given me the opportunity and ability to be smart with my money so I can afford my own education, but also to see how fortunate I am to have this opportunity,” said Sebastian.

The Arias family was able to build a future for their kids and for themselves through hard work and determination and a little bit of help from their community. This is the difference a Habitat home can make for a single family. It creates a ripple effect through a community, creating change one family, one neighborhood and one community at a time.

To learn how you can support Fox Cities Habitat’s mission, please visit our volunteer or donate pages.