BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Marlon Zepeda always has faith.
“If you believe, everything is possible,” Zepeda said to community members gathered around a Habitat for Humanity construction site in Bridgeport on Wednesday.
Zepeda's prayers have been answered. He will soon live in a new home on George Street that he is helping to build with at least 500 hours of “sweat equity.”
The house will be named after Pope Francis, who will be arriving in the United States later this month. An anonymous donor provided some of the funds to construct the house — and many in the pope's honor across the country, according to Habitat for Humanity of Coastal Fairfield County .
Several students from area schools, including Fairfield University, Sacred Heart University, University of Bridgeport and Notre Dame High School, helped to raise a wall on the site late Wednesday morning.
Stuart Adelberg, CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Coastal Fairfield County, whose organization is building the house, told the Daily Voice that he was happy to see the students at the worksite. But he acknowledged that the start of school is a busy time for those young people.
Adelberg, though, said community involvement was key to the donor’s intentions.
“The donor wanted us to engage people of all ages and faiths,” Adelberg said.
The future Habitat homeowners will be the Zepeda family, including Marlon, Magaly, Joshua and Aliana as well as Maggie’s mother, Milagros Ortiz.
The Zepedas are active members of the St. Augustine Cathedral parish, which is not far from the site.
The wall-raising ceremony was emotional but had moments of levity as Magaly thanked each of the Habitat volunteers and employees that made her new home possible.
The crowd also sang happy birthday to Aliana, who recently celebrated a birthday.
The house is one of several Habitat houses throughout the nation that will be named in honor of Pope Francis, according to Adelberg. And it will have the special distinction of being the only house named after the pope in Bridgeport — at least for now.
Habitat typically builds 12 to 14 houses a year in the Bridgeport community.
Families who move into Habitat houses with the construction then make the purchase with zero-interest mortgages, Adelberg said.