Manuel and Valeria and their daughters, Nailah (13) and Elina (11) love spending as much family time together as they can. One of their favorite destinations is Lake Murray, where they ride their bikes, go on walks, and feed the ducks. On sunny days, they like to go to the beach, and drive to Julian to enjoy the snow when the weather turns. Balboa Park’s “residents are free” museum days are also a popular activity for the girls.

Each member of the family has their own interests and hobbies, of course. Manuel stays healthy and coordinated by boxing, and Valeria likes to sew and garden, even though they currently have limited space for that. Nailah is very creative and earned an award for a drawing she made for the Mother Goose Parade. She also received a certificate of achievement in film and literature from Cuyamaca College, which made her parents very proud. Elina takes after her sister and loves to draw and read, in addition to riding her longboard. Recently, she has taken up learning to play the keyboard by watching YouTube videos. YouTube has been a great resource for the family, as they first learned about the Habitat homeownership program when Valeria came across a Habitat video there!

Manuel has been a gas turbine mechanic at SolarTurbines for 20 years. He is a self-proclaimed “tinkerer” and loves his job where he gets to use his hands. Valeria was attending Cuyamaca College, working toward her associates degree in business administration, when COVID struck and she stepped away to help the girls with their schooling. Valeria’s ultimate goal is to finish her degree and get a job working in administration at a school.

The pursuit of higher education is important to the parents. Valeria and Manuel want their daughters to have every opportunity in life to work hard in pursuit of their dreams. The girls enjoy school, especially an elective called X-Factor, which is a 6-week rotation of different classes like cooking, sewing, woodshop, and watercolor art. They are enjoying exploring new interests and gaining life skills.

Manuel is a first generation Mexican-American originally from Los Angeles. Valeria was born in Mexico and came to America when she was 5 years old. She became a United States citizen in 2007, which was a very proud moment for her.

Owning a home will allow the Manuel, Valeria, and the girls p e a c e of mind regarding their housing stability. It will give them a sense of freedom to achieve the American Dream that they have been chasing for so many years.