Raising two kids in a mold-infested house, single mother Jackie Gerlach said she’s always fantasized of one day owning her own home, and thanks to Habitat for Humanity Regina, her dreams are now a reality.
On Monday when she was handed the keys to a brand new house, Gerlach said she felt a mix of nerves and excitement, noting that she doesn’t really know what to expect as a new homeowner. For her, the reason for applying to Habitat for Humanity all comes down to her kids.
“I want to leave them something and it starts with them. Plus, I wanted to break the poverty cycle that we grew up in,” she said. “My sister broke it and now they have their own company and now I want to be the next one that breaks it and has a home and has something to leave their kids.”
As a single mother living on one income, Gerlach said Habitat for Humanity gave her a hand up rather than a hand out. She and her family worked more than 500 hours to help build their own home. She encourages anyone else in a similar situation to reach out to the organization.
“I’m willing to help them because I know how that feels and I want to help as many people as I can get to where I am because I never ever thought this was going to happen in my life and it’s just amazing. I truly feel blessed.”
Her 14-year-old son Joshua is already making plans to work on finishing the basement. He said the first house they lived in was unfinished and had mold in the basement. Then they moved in with his grandmother and space was just very cramped.
“I’m just excited to have my own space,” Joshua explained, adding that he looks forward to working out since he’s on the football team and having friends over.
His little sister Karma is eight years old and very excited to move in, saying she always dreamed of living in a house with two floors.
“The kitchen because it’s so big and we have a dishwasher, so me and my brother don’t have to do dishes no more,” she said, describing what she is most excited about.
The Gerlachs are one of 10 Regina families who got the keys to their new homes on Monday, but their house is special because it is the 100th Habitat home in the city.
Mahwish Dariq and her husband moved to Regina from Pakistan five years ago under sponsorship from their family members.
They have two daughters aged six and 18 months. She said it was too difficult to afford a house on their own because they are taking post-secondary classes.
On Monday, they took part in the key ceremony at the new housing complex. Their house was sponsored by News Talk CJME Rawlco Radio.
“It’s quite special for us to have a home, for us, it means everything,” Dariq explained.
She said their six-year-old daughter is super excited to have her own room.
“She’s always counting, ‘Mama, how many nights are left until we are going to our new home?'”
Dariq added her husband had to do most of the 500 labour hours required for the family to qualify for a Habitat house because she had a young baby to take care of. However, she still contributed by cooking food for the workers.
“My husband used to go to work and then he used to come here,” Dariq explaiend. “He spent almost all the weekends here and at the restore and the build site.”
Dariq said the most important thing about the house is that it really belongs to them, and they don’t have to rent anymore.
— With files from 980 CJME’s Jessie Anton