Tayilo Ngalasa is building “a souvenir for life” in the heart of downtown Fort Worth.
Ngalasa, 47, an immigrant from the Republic of Congo, donned her hard hat and joined a crew of XTO Energy employees Tuesday to begin building her Trinity Habitat for Humanity home in Sundance Square.
For Ngalasa and her 16-year-old daughter, Merveille, the new home will be a life-changing event. Not only will she become a homeowner, but by taking on a mortgage payment that is less than what she pays in rent for her Arlington apartment, she can save money to send her daughter to college.
It is a souvenir because it’s mine for life. ... I’ll be there for all my life with my family, with my daughter.
Tayilo Ngalasa, future owner of the Habitat home
“It is a souvenir because it’s mine for life,” said Ngalasa, who works at the Park View Care Center nursing home. “I’ll be there for all my life with my family, with my daughter. We have a set place.”
This is the ninth home to be built downtown by Trinity Habitat for Humanity and the eighth time XTO, a subsidiary of ExxonMobil, has provided volunteers for the “blitz build.” Working in shifts through Saturday, they will build the home’s outer shell before it is moved Monday to the Hillside Morningside area southeast of downtown.
It will take XTO employees more than 1,000 hours to build the 1,150-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bath home. Besides providing volunteers, XTO also contributes $100,000 toward the house’s construction.
By building the structure for Ngalasa and her daughter, Habitat and XTO will be providing a foundation that is a “launching pad into a healthy, thriving, vibrant family, healthy, thriving, vibrant neighborhood,” said Trinity Habitat’s executive director, Gage Yager.
Since many of their families make $25,000 to $35,000 a year, owning a home like this can be tough, he said. But it is particularly important to note that Ngalasa, who immigrated to the United States in 2001, came here to pursue the American dream like generations of immigrants before her.
“We talk about our political divides, and they are real and they are important,” Yager said. “But even as we talk about that, we [America] are the shining beacon on the hill to those people living in Third World countries that want the American dream.”
Sundance Square hosts the blitz build in downtown Fort Worth and its CEO, Johnny Campbell, said that “having the home built in the center of the plaza brings awareness to the tremendous need for high-quality, affordable housing” that Habitat provides for the community.
I feel like she’ll be focused on helping me and working and not so stressed out about money.
Mervielle Ngalasa, who is receiving the home with her mother
Mervielle Ngalasa said she felt honored to be receiving the home this year. A junior at Bowie High School in Arlington, she hopes to go to college and earn a degree in criminal psychology.
She recognizes her mother’s day-to-day struggles as a single parent. Now, things should be easier.
“I feel like she’ll be focused on helping me and working and not so stressed out about money,” Mervielle Ngalasa said.
As part of the blitz build, the public will be allowed to tour the home during a celebration at 6 p.m. Thursday. Legacy 4, a Fort Worth rhythm and blues band, will be providing the entertainment. There will be free tacos from Reata and a cash bar.