January 4, 2013
I've noticed how "positive" stories draw positive reader comments, both online and letters to the editor. Sure, everybody loves reading about the rescued dog and the anonymous Santa. Longtime reporters often develop a hard shell that keeps them objective while preventing emotional involvement with their subjects. As a (mostly) features reporter, I've written hundreds of feel-good stories. But the latest, "Homing Instinct," appearing in January PineStraw magazine, touched a special place. It is about Victoria Lopez, the divorced mother of six beautiful children, the youngest with Down Syndrome. Victoria is high=energy, a fighter, but her living conditions -- an unheated double-wide in Vass -- and desperate financial state (working two jobs) finally beat her down. Then, at a church group for divorcees, she learned of Habitat for Humanity. With great trepidation, she applied. That was a year ago. Through her hard work and the help of others, in about a month Victoria and her children will move into a lovely new energy-efficient home in Aberdeen. Each child will have his/her own bedroom. Her special needs son will have a safe space. The kids will have a porch to sit on and plenty of friends in the Midway Gardens development. Victoria has started a one-woman residential/office cleaning business; this is possible because her children (four of them boys) do the housework, and help care for their brother Elias. Interviewing Victoria and her family gave me chills....and encouragement. Good things do happen to people who believe in themselves and, with the help of organizations like Habitat, work hard to overcome desperate life situations. Please read about Victoria online at www.pinestrawmag.com (Downton Abbey on the cover) or pick up a copy.