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House is 886 sq ft of Dreams, Charity

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House is 886 Sq. Ft. of Dreams, Charity
Peter Ortiz , The Arizona Republic
June 14, 2003
(Posted with Permission)

From the unfinished bedroom Gloria Rivers can see the tract of land where her father's house once stood and where she hoped to build her own home one day.

At 54, Rivers almost gave up on owning a home on the Salt River Reservation. But in a few weeks Rivers will move into the modest, two-bedroom house built on a former cotton field, thanks to a Tempe construction firm.

"It means everything to me because I never had anything that was mine," Rivers said as tears welled in her eyes.

Margaret Rodriguez arranged for the house to be built as a way to share her good fortune. Rodriguez, also a member of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian community, runs Au' Authum Ki, a Tempe-based, multimillion-dollar construction business. She established Au' Authum Ki Miracle Charities this year with the goal of giving away one home a year.

Rodriguez grew up in a two-room home with little water and electricity. She persuaded her contractors and suppliers to donate their labor and supplies in building the 886-square-foot house.

"I want to give something back to the community because I know what it is like," Rodriguez said.

The house is being built on a half-acre of land Rivers owns, but could never afford to build on. Single and with no children, Rivers lived a nomadic existence, staying with relatives and friends while working at Valley resorts. Six years ago she became disabled after a car accident and started losing hope that she would ever own a house.

Now Rivers is weeks away from moving into her house. She doesn't own much furniture, but can't wait to invite friends over. She has fond memories of her grandmother cooking for visitors, something she now looks forward to doing.

"I have been pinching myself everyday thinking about it," she said.

Copyright (c) The Arizona Republic. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Gannett Co., Inc. by NewsBank, Inc.

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