Each day as she cleaned beautiful homes owned by others, Paula Smith dreamed of having a nice home for her son. Nothing fancy, necessarily, but a place where he could more easily navigate his wheelchair.
Eleven-year-old Dylan Smith has a rare connective tissue disorder called epidermolysis bullosa. He was born with it. It causes blisters in the skin and mucosal membranes.
In 2009, he was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy.
“It was devastating,” Paula said of the diagnosis. “We started having issues, and we thought it was because of the EB. He was losing strength and his feet were turning backwards. Even with just a small bottle of water, it took all his strength to lift it.”
Paula and her son were definitely past due for something good.
On Sunday, mother and son were handed the keys to a new Habitat for Humanity home that was built with Dylan in mind.
“It just means everything. It couldn’t have happened at a better time,” said Paula, who has a housecleaning business.
Life, needless to say, has been a struggle. Nurses help tend to Dylan’s needs.
Friends advised Paula to apply for a Habitat home. She did, and her application was approved. As soon as she can stop working long enough to move, she and Dylan will take up residence at Habitat House #69.
The other two houses that were dedicated on Sunday are owned by Olga Hernandez and her four children, and Romualdo Tovar and Lucila Rios and their three children.
A Habitat home for Hernandez had just been finished and was scheduled for dedication when the May 15 tornado decimated much of Rancho Brazos, site of the Habitat neighborhood. The home intended for the Hernandez family was destroyed.
The Tovar and Rios family also were impacted by the tornado. Romualdo Tovar’s brother was one of six people who perished in the storm.
All three families were presented Bibles during Sunday’s dedication ceremonies.
Carol Davidson, executive director of Habitat’s Hood County chapter, said that Paula “is one of the hardest working women I have ever met.”
“She’s just amazing,” Davidson said. “She’s just a joyful, upbeat person. She’s has been so delightful. We’re just thrilled to have partnered with them.”
Paula said that Dylan is “excited” about his new home. At the dedication ceremony, he cried, she said, partly out of sadness over leaving the home on Bridge Street where they have lived for eight years, and partly out of joy for the new beginning made possible by Habitat.
Soon, Paula said, her son will be completely confined to the wheelchair because of the muscular dystrophy.
Dylan is a benefactor of Face the Fire Ministries, which was founded by Granbury resident and state senator Brian Birdwell and his wife, Mel. He also is a favorite of the Brazos River Corvette Club.
Paula said that the Habitat home is “a miracle.”
“I was just amazed,” she said of her good fortune. “Granbury is awesome.”
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