our town st helena eric martinez and family at brenkle court

Anahuiz, Alondra, Michelle, Eric, Ana and Erik Martinez

Eric Martinez left his small hometown in Guanajuato Mexico in 1995 and moved to the US. He was just 20 years old, and it meant leaving his friends and family and moving to another country.

He didn’t speak a word of English, but he would be joining some relatives who had previously migrated to Napa Valley. He found landscaping work, but soon began looking for a job with more opportunity and applied to Sequoia Winery; he has been working there now for more than 20 years. His English has developed over the years, and he easily communicates with everyone.

Along the way, Eric married Ana and they started a family

After the birth of Eric and Ana’s third child, they needed to find a bigger place to live. “We began looking for apartments, and there is very little affordable housing in Napa Valley. Fortunately, there was an opening at Vista Del Valle. We were able to lease an apartment, and we’ve been here since 2007. Moving from Napa to St. Helena represented a big change for our family. It meant starting over and making new friends, but it’s a small community, and the people made it easy for our children to adapt and feel welcome.

This house means so much for our family

“Being homeowners—especially here in St. Helena, where we work and go to school. We have worked so hard over the years. We are extremely thankful for the opportunity to build our house, and we appreciate this program! Our Town St. Helena has given this group of eight families a wonderful opportunity.

“By building our own house we are demonstrating that unity, dedication and hard work can help accomplish bigger goals. My two little girls may be the happiest because they are finally going to have their own bedroom.”

My team is my family

As part of the Brenkle Court project, every family is required to have a dedicated team that will commit 36 hours of labor each weekend in order to complete the project on schedule. “My team is my family. My wife Ana, my son Erik and my daughter Alondra—that’s our construction crew. My other two daughters, Anahiz and Michelle, are too young. We do have other family members and friends who join our team when they can. I like that my children are involved in this process—they’re learning so much, and the house will have special meaning for them.”