The Gilchrist family -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

The Gilchrist family


Valerie Gilchrist says it’s a blessing to be able to provide a better home for her 15-year-old son, Jarrett, and 12-year-old daughter, Briana, with help from Habitat for Humanity.

©Habitat for Humanity International/Ezra Millstein


‘Helping others in addition to helping myself’

After Valerie Gilchrist graduated from Woodlawn High School, she earned a degree in elementary education from Stillman College. For the past 12 years, she has served as a teacher with Cornerstone Schools of Alabama, a faith-based school that serves low-income students in urban environments.

She knows what a good education can mean to her two children, Jarrett, 15, and Briana, 12. “I want to provide opportunities for them,” Gilchrist said. “I’m just hoping that they’ll be successful and continue to let God lead and direct them.”

Another opportunity she’s giving her children is a new home through Habitat for Humanity’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program. Habitat is rehabbing a house in partnership with Gilchrist and her children.

Jarrett is old enough to help his mother as she puts in her sweat-equity hours. “I think he’s enjoying it,” Gilchrist said. “He’s learning a lot.”

Does Briana wish she were old enough to pitch in on the construction site, too? “I’m OK with it,” she said with a shy smile. She prefers writing and reading.

Her mother is enjoying the work, though. “What I really love about Habitat is going out and doing the volunteer work, because I feel like I’m really helping others in addition to helping myself,” Gilchrist said.

“This is a blessing for us. I thank God for letting me know about Habitat through my friends.”