Our 750th Home - Onward and Upward to More Homes, Communities & Hope!


Just days before our June home dedication ceremony, Habitat Chesapeake's Construction Site Supervisor Gary Mitchell sat in a forklift on McCabe Avenue and ruminated on his journey from a 12-year old Habitat volunteer, to staff person to homeowner. As he stood facing the crowd in Sandtown-Winchester more than 20 years ago, he said, the only thought in his mind was trying not to cry. "The feeling I had on that day was the same feeling of those who had received a Habitat home before me - like my own mother who received her own home years prior, all those that are presently receiving homes and those that will be blessed with their own homes in the future."


For Habitat homeowners like Gary, we see time and again the overwhelming emotion that comes from having a home of one's own. In a region with an increasingly high cost-of-living and few decent, yet affordable housing options, having a safe place to raise a family creates a palpable sense of hope. We often see Habitat homeowners go on to find better paying jobs or gain a graduate degree because they no longer have the stress of instability. The same is true for their children. As another recent homeowner told us, since moving from a cramped apartment to a home of her own, her son's grades went from D's to B's.



In June, two more deserving homeowners, Sandria Sheppard and Brittney Bennett, stood before Habitat Chesapeake partners, volunteers, and staff to accept the keys to their new home - marking our 750th home dedication to date! Sandria and Brittney went through the program together, attending homeowner education classes that covered everything from monthly budgeting to basic home improvement, working in ReStores and on construction sites, and staffing community events. Together, the dedicated more than 500 hours of time building their own home and others, and now they'll be next-door neighbors! Like many Habitat homeowners, they found comfort in working alongside other homeowners-to-be and are happy to join a community with 15 Habitat families and counting!


Every home dedication is special and we take immense pride in reaching the 750-home milestone - one of only a handful of Habitat affiliates to do so. At the same time, we know that number is just a mile marker on a long road ahead. We currently have 12 deserving families powering through "sweat equity" hours and we continue to receive dozens of inquiries each week. Our application process is rigorous and so are our guidelines - to ensure that we serve families who will be successful homeowners, and who are willing to be partners throughout the program and beyond. Every Habitat Chesapeake family is screened for income and credit worthiness, and once accepted to the program, tirelessly dedicated 250-350 "sweat equity" hours just like Brittney and Sandria.



Ultimately, our goal is to make Habitat homeowners feel as confident and prepared as possible, so they can maximize all of the benefits that come with owning a home - including a sense of peace and stability, improved physical and metal health, better academic success for children and an opportunity to build wealth across generations. Our homebuyers aren't the only ones that benefit. Every new Habitat home helps the neighborhood around it - bringing visible investment, engaged new families and a sense of vibrancy and community. We need look no further than Gary Mitchell, who has been volunteering with Habitat since age 12, became a Habitat homeowner and now builds homes as a Habitat staffer during the day while spending his evenings and weekends running as after-school program that teaches young people in Sandtown how to repair bicycles and earn their own through community service.



We are incredibly grateful to all of the hardworking homeowners, volunteers, community partners and donors who have contributed to these 750 homes over the past 35 years - giving 2,500+ family members and 15 undeserved communities a brighter future. Thank you all for helping us build homes, communities and hope!