For two consecutive years the Grier and Burris families of Milford have partnered with the Habitat for Humanity in the spirit of community service. During this year’s 5th Annual Martin Luther King Jr., Day of Service both families worked at Georgetown Point and helped to complete 2 Habitat Homes on Linden Avenue that will be dedicated on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at noon.
The day of service began in 2008 when Rachael Grier Reynolds decided to involve the Grier family in something bigger than themselves. This was nothing new for the family as community service has been handed down through generations as a way of life. That Christmas instead of a ordinary present, each family member received a tool belt and was told that they would be building homes for the less fortunate through Habitat for Humanity. Unknown to all, this family activity would mean so much more as Rachael was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer months later.
“I think it is so important to teach our children to be a positive force in their community, if you can do positive work in the midst of negativity than you can really do something different.” commented Rachael when asked why community service is held in such high respect in the Grier family. “We were always taught by our parents that if you live in a community , you serve that community. “
Three years after Rachael and her family began their Habitat for Humanity services, their friends and neighbors, the Burris family, joined the effort of giving the gift of service. Going back several generations the Grier and Burris families have worked together on community projects including local churches, the Milford hospital, fire departments and several community service organizations.
“My parents and the Burris’ were very involved through community service together and taught us to do the same,” commented Rachael Grier Reynolds. “We have had so many connections between the two families over the years and wanted our kids involved to carry on that family tradition.”
Together the families were able to finish construction on two houses that will give two families from Georgetown an opportunity to own a home of their own. According to Melissa Korik,Public Relations Coordinator for Sussex County Habitat for Humanity, one house will be the future home for Dario Perez and Blanca Velasquez, who joined the Habitat for Humanity program in April of 2012. Their goal of owning a home was to provide a safe and healthy environment for their 5 children: Devin: 15, Keila: 10, Bradley: 6, Deisy: 3, and their youngest, Haley: 1 month. The other house will be the new home for Myriam Gonzales and her son Phillip: 18, and son Gianlucca: 7. Myriam works in the poultry industry nearby and heard about the program as a volunteer in the Habitat ReStore. Each Habitat for Humanity future occupant must meet their minimum sweat equity hours, 250 hours per adult in the household, and participate in programs that teach them how to maintain a family budget while eliminating debt.
“It is everyone’s dream to own a home but it can be a difficult process and very difficult to do,” commented Allison Castellanos of the Burris family. “There are a lot of families in Georgetown living in substandard conditions or renting places that are not in good shape. Habitat for Humanity gives those families an opportunity to have the stability of owning a home while being able to work hard and contribute to the building of their home.”
For five consecutive years the Martin Luther King Jr., Day of Service has been a success for Habitat for Humanity and the last two have served to bring the two families closer together in the name of community service. Grier-Reynolds intends for this event to be a family tradition , for both families, for years to come. There will be a double dedication for both of these homes on Wednesday, February 6 in Georgetown Point at noon.