This past February, 16 members of our RYNO family traveled to Tijuana, Mexico to build a house for the Rivera family in just two days. This meant building a house from scratch on a 10 x 20 space with 2 bedrooms: one for the parents and one for the children. The RYNOs that took the time out of their busy schedules to accomplish this included Anna and Chris Yano, Mike and Jaclyn Venidis, Chelsea Wilson, Megan Morris, Alison Brandt, Stephanie Vik, Dustin Kays, Elliot Weber, Kristen Seleman, Jennifer Schwartz, Micah Mowery, Frankie Baez, and Jerad Shepherd. The last Mexico home-build trip in 2013 went so well, we knew we had to do it again! With more RYNOs on the team, there were more hands to help with this amazing project.

Our RYNOs traveled by plane and then by bus to get to Tijuana, Mexico to meet the Riveras. On day one, they met the Rivera family: Priscilla, Elio, and their three children, Alejandra, Juan Carlos, and Elliott. The family was so grateful for our team of RYNOs traveling all this way to help them build their home. The first order of business was painting and framing the house. By the end of the day, the basic structure of the house was completed. They now had 4 walls, a roof, windows, and doors.

On the second day, the RYNO team arrived to find that the Rivera family had made them carne asada! It was absolutely fantastic! After some downtime to eat, they got back to work. This was the final day of the home-building project, so there was a lot to get done. The roof was completed, the electrical was installed, drywall was put in, they even staged the home with beds, kitchen necessities, and a table. While this was being done, some of our RYNOs took the Rivera family to Wal-Mart for some essentials and toys for the kids. Food, toiletries, toys, clothes, cleaning supplies, home items, etc. The kids in particular had so much fun getting to choose whatever toys they wanted. It was amazing to see the joy and excitement in their eyes.

When the house was completed, our RYNOs felt a sense of accomplishment and pride in their work, and the Rivera family was so grateful for the kindness and amount of effort it took to make it all happen. Before saying their goodbyes, they passed the keys around the group to bless them and share best wishes for each member of the family. It was a bittersweet moment and two days of hard work that our RYNOs will never forget.

“Gratitude is an important factor in understanding the power of positivity and I believe the purpose of life is to figure out what makes you happy. Being exposed to those that are less fortunate along with the opportunity to help impact their lives for the greater good does that for me. It is a life-changing experience that is beyond words and I would highly recommend it to anyone that would like to make a dramatic difference in another person’s life.” – Mike Venidis

“There aren’t words to fully describe the emotions felt while building a home for the Rivera Santa Cruz Family. It was an amazing and humbling experience. To get to know the family and spend time with them while building their home was so heartwarming. I will never forget them and how they now hold a special place in my heart.”Alison Brandt

“I wanted to share with you my experience with our Home Build. This was one of the kindest heartfelt experiences that I have ever been a part of. It really brought to perspective seeing how these people live and what they do every day to survive. Being able to help build this family a home where they will actually have a bed to sleep on, a table to eat and pray at, and a place to actually call home was the best feeling ever. Not only did we create a bond with the family this really brought our team together. I loved being able to work hands-on with my coworkers in a different way that we never would have expected to. We all came together and built an actual house in 2 days!!!! This will forever be one of my favorite life memories, and I think everyone in life should have a chance to do something like this. I can’t wait to do it again!” – Megan Morris

Thank you to Priscilla, Elio, Alejandra, Juan Carlos, and Elliott Rivera for allowing RYNO to help make this dream a reality, as well as for all your hospitality and kindness.