Dwight Howard gives family more than a shopping spree

PEARLAND – Diana Olvera pushed a cart through Target, filling it with household goods.

Some curtains, a few towels, laundry detergent.

Dressed in a gray sweatshirt, hair tied back, she walked along scanning items she and her family will need over the next few weeks.

Olvera is starting from scratch. Everything she owned is in her old house – the one that burned down Dec. 12.

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Olvera and her family – husband, Emeterio Castillo, daughter Emi Castillo and son Salvador Castillo – have been living out of their car and a hotel room since the fire.

A light in the darkness

On Friday, she received the first wave of good news since that fateful day. Dwight Howard’s D12 Foundation found Olvera and her family a home until they can get back on their feet.

And to help with the expenses of the holidays, Howard, 29, took Olvera Christmas shopping, along with 154 area children and their parents.

Howard had the event planned, but when he heard about what had happened to Olvera’s home, he insisted she come along. He is also making sure she and her family will be taken care of during this tough time.

After all, Olvera has helped Howard take care of his family. She occasionally babysits Howard’s 18-month old son, Dwight Howard III.

“She watches my son sometimes,” Howard said. “She has been helping us with him for a while and I couldn’t believe when I heard about her house.

“And that it happened right around Christmas. It’s terrible. I wanted her to know that my family is here for her. And we are going to help her however we can.”

On Dec. 12, Olvera got a call that her son’s girlfriend was in labor. She ran into the other room of her house to tell her family when she smelled and saw smoke.

She called 911 and the fire department responded quickly, but it was too late. Her home and all of her belongings were gone.

All of her family was safe and her son welcomed a son that day, Neithen Hernandez.

“I felt very overwhelmed,” she said through a translator. “I never expected for this to happen. I am grateful my family is OK, but I am still sad about losing our home and all of our things.”

Temporary housing

Howard found out several days later about the incident. At the time, the family was living out of its car trying to figure out the next step. Howard helped them into a hotel.

Friday he told his foundation staff and volunteers about Olvera. Within minutes, Nancy Almodobar from Nan Properties had found temporary housing for the family. A volunteer from Zientte Furniture, Claudia Ayala, heard about the family and offered to help furnish their home.

It all came together quickly. Olvera couldn’t believe how everyone csme together on her behalf.

“It means so much to us that people are giving and helpful,” she said.

Howard spent several hours Friday morning shopping with kids, talking about bikes and baby dolls, and picking out pajamas and shoes for the group. He said his biggest goal is to leave a positive impact everywhere he lives.

On Friday, he saw a chance to do that for Olvera.

And Olvera said she will forever hold Howard in high regard.

“I don’t have much family or support here,” she said. “I consider Dwight and his family my own. He is making a big difference in my life.”

By Jenny Dial Creech of http://blog.chron.com



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