The Deborah Brown family -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

The Deborah Brown family


Deborah Brown is happy that the home she is rehabilitating with Habitat will be near her job and near medical care for her son Conner, 6. Conner is in first grade and plans to decorate his new room with a “Toy Story” theme.

©Habitat for Humanity/Steffan Hacker

‘The biggest thing I’ve ever done’

Life and work are coming together for Deborah Brown.

Brown, 45, is about to become the owner of a rehabbed house that is part of an ongoing project near Johns Hopkins medical campus in East Baltimore, which has already rehabbed nine houses. Ten more houses will be rehabbed during the 2010 Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project.

Although all the Jefferson Street homeowners-to-be are excited, Brown, who was born and raised in Baltimore, is looking forward to not just a new home of her own but also a house within walking distance of the famous medical facility where she has worked as a data entry consultant in pathology for three years.

“It’s perfect: near my job, Conner’s appointments and my church,” she said.

Conner, 6, is her youngest child, a first-grader who laughs and poses with a basketball for the photographer. He has had a difficult time for the past two years; seizures, a brain tumor and a stroke during surgery to remove the tumor have made getting well the focus of life for both him and his mother.

Brown is happy that her job has helped Conner to get good care, but he still has lots of follow-up appointments, including an MRI every six months.

Free time has been hard to find, so Brown cherishes a recent walk around Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Her sister, Sharon, has contributed 50 hours to the sweat equity needed to purchase her house by working at one of the affiliate’s ReStores.

Brown has three other children. Cidney, 13, is an eighth-grader with a strong interest in dance. Ceron, 18, is starting school at North Carolina Central University and plans to become a physical therapist. The oldest, Courtney, 25, is working on a doctorate in nursing and recently got married.

Conner is thinking about his new room. “He has his ideas about color, sheets,” his mom said, summarizing that Conner’s décor calls for a “Toy Story” theme.

After years of renting, she’s excited about having her own home. “The neighborhood is coming together. I see a lot of potential,” she explained. “Folks who grew up in the neighborhood and come back see the change.

“I’m just excited. I don’t know how else to say it,” she said. And after a year in her new house?

“I’ll still be excited. It’s the biggest thing I’ve ever done.”