Kisha Brewer

Kisha Brewer, Age 56, works at the Hickory YMCA. Her granddaughters are part of the household. They are Zion, age 16, Jordan, age 15, and Haven, age 13. Kisha describes her family as loving, supportive, and connected through prayer. In their spare time, they enjoy cooking, attending church, and watching movies together.

Kisha and her family recently lost their housing situation, and are currently living at the Family Care Center. This is what led Kisha to discover Habitat Catawba Valley.

She looks forward to one day being able to see her oldest off to college, and, have the security of a home for her to return to. Raising her grandchildren from a place of stability, and watching them become successful, is her priority in life.

Owning her own home, and the sense of security it will bring, will be a welcome change in Kisha’s life.

Sharon Gadson

My name is Sharon Gadson. My son, Sakein Gadson and I moved to Hickory, NC from Charlotte, NC in 2021. I’m currently employed by Cintas. I’ve been at Cintas since 2021. My son attends school at Hickory High where he is a freshman. he enjoyed playing basketball and football and plans to play basketball for Hickory High next season.

Together we enjoy watching movies and cooking together. I graduated with an Associates degree in Culinary Arts. I have a strong passion for cooking and trying out different recipes. I enjoy going to worship at Discovery Church it fills my soul to be surrounded with such a praying group of believers and to sing my praises on the choir.

I also have a passion to help others. Helping others does not always have to be monetary for me it is simply a listening ear and words of encouragement. I believe there is power in our words and we can speak life into others. I am at awe with how my life is playing out, now my faith has grown as a result of me surrendering my will. I am looking forward to growing in my community and with my community.

Thanks to all Habitat staff, doors, and volunteers. Thanks for giving hope.

Melissa Cruse and Family

As a mother of three, Melissa Cruse is building her home so that she can one day pass it down to her kids. A peer support specialist and program coordinator, Melissa works at ICGH Treatment Center. Her three children are Colby (12), Carter (6), and Elyza (4).

Like so many people, Melissa’s first experience with Habitat came through someone she knew. The father of one of Melissa’s childhood friends was a Habitat homeowner, and from then on she always loved the idea of getting to help build your own house.

That’s why when Melissa’s caseworker with Safe Harbor encouraged her to apply to Habitat, Melissa decided it was time. Her current apartment complex has become “rough”, and her kids aren’t able to play outside.

Together with her children, she describes her home life as chaotic, beautiful, loving, and silly all at once. Her oldest Colby is into guitar, martial arts, and school plays at Lincoln Charter Schools. The middle child Carter attends mountain view elementary, and has a love for cheese pizza and YouTube. Elyza, the youngest, attends Pre-K at Footsetps, is a dancer, and loves all things shiny and pink. Together they want a home where they can color, watch movies and snuggle together.

When asked about her proudest accomplishment, without hesitation Melissa replies that it’s her sobriety. After a 22 year drug and alcohol addiction, she is proud to say that she has been clean for 3 years and 4 months!

Building upon the achievement of her sobriety, Melissa sees homeownership as the next step in her process of building stability, security, and solid foundations for her family.

John Braswell

John Braswell, age 61, is retired. He is a former diesel engine mechanic. His sister Nancy Braswell is currently a Habitat homeowner.

John was born in Mitchell County, however he grew up in Valdese. Due to his job, he has lived in Catawba County for over 30 years. John has two sons, one of which lives in Conover, and the other in Salt Lake City, Utah. John has four sisters, one who is since deceased.

His career as a diesel mechanics ended once he became disabled. John looks forward to living in a home here in Ridgeview and getting to know and build a sense of community with his new neighbors.

Zachary and Jodie Gillaspie

Zach and Jody Gillaspie are the proud parents of three wonderful children who are seeking a better life through affordable housing. Zach works at PDQ as a kitchen manager and loves working on cars, hiking, and playing with the kids. Jody, a stay at home mother, enjoys painting, trying new foods, and being an adventurer / explorer.

Their three children are Samuel (9), Rylie (7), and Jaxon (6). Samuel is a 4th grader who likes riding bikes and playing Minecraft. Rylie is in 2nd grade and enjoys the arts like her mother and playing dress up. When Jaxon isn’t watching his favorite show “PJ Mask”, he loves being outside and playing at the park. All of the children attend Blackburn Elementary School.

The Gillaspie’s are proud parents and are challeneged by their living situation. The small trailer in which they live is hardly enough for a family of their size. Adiitonally, the dwelling has ongoing electrical issues. They dream of one day owning a home so that they can spread out, spend time outside in a safe outdoor environment, and give their children a sense of stability in their own rooms.

Growing up, Jody and Zach were somewhat familiar with Habitat for Humanity. More recently, Zach heard about us from one of his coworkers. Discovering that we work to provide families with clean and affordable shelter brought the Gillaspies to reach out and apply. They are most proud of being accepted into the Habitat Homebuyer Program. “It is an amazing thing to own your own safe housing and be able to provide that for our children”.

To the Gillaspie’s, owning their own home will “change everything for our family. Our kids can have more room to play and have their own bedroom. It will make us feel safer and we are really looking forward to it”. Jody states it will “..bring better changes for us all”, and stresses the importance of having a “cleaner environment and home for the kids”, as well as “peace of mind for me and my husband”.

Robin Jakubowski

Robin Jakubowski has lived in Catawba County for 21 years and is originally from Baltimore, Maryland. She works at Snyder Paper. Her son Nathan is a senior at Hickory High School.

Robin and Nathan enjoy summers in the south. They spend time at the beach whenever possible and love to swim. Nathan also enjoys riding his bike in his spare time.

Robin looks forward to earning sweat equity hours at the Habitat ReStore. “I always enjoy working around people and being around people”, she says. “I like to stay busy.”

She felt happy and blessed when she found out she was accepted into the Habitat Homeownership Program. She says “Having a Habitat home will change my life because Nathan and I can have a place to call our own. Owning my own home means I will always have a safe place for me and family.”

Robin plans for her home to be a place to cherish her family. She cannot wait to celebrate the holidays with her entire family in her new home.

Epimenio Mendoza & Family

Epimenio (Epi Sr.) Mendoza is a single father building his home so that his two sons can plan for tomorrow instead of worry about today. A local manufacturer, Epi Sr. works at Bassett Furniture. Epimenio A. (Epi Jr.) is age 18, and also works at Basset alongside his dad. Emmanuel (Manny) is age 9.

Originally from Los Angeles, CA, Epi Sr. moved to the area in search of more affordable living, less congestion, and great opportunities for his family. He already had a connection to Newton where family members lived, and is currently staying with his sister-in-law while he completes the construction of his new home.

Homeownership has always been a big presence in Epi Sr.’s life. The other big presence is family. His parents still own their own home in Los Angeles. And it was his sister-in-law who first introduced Epi Sr. to Habitat. He wanted to pass that same stability of home and family on to his sons. Out of all his accomplishments, Epi Sr. is most proud of raising his children on his own.

Baseball is big in the Mendoza family – Epi Jr. is a fan of the Dodgers and Manny plays baseball for Startown. The family loves camping, exploring, learning about history, and traveling together.

To Epi Sr., ‘Home’ means having a safe place to have all of his kids together with him under one roof. “Owning my own home will show my kids that hard work pays off. It will give my kids the change to focus on education and not where they will live or who they will have to live with.”

Jose Vargas & Family

Jose, Lidia, and Andy Vargas moved to North Carolina from New York in 2007. Jose is the department supervisor of pets, paper goods, and chemicals at Walmart. Lidia is a stay-at-home mom and enjoys crafting, sewing, and making cards. Andy is 14 years old and in the 8th grade at HM Arndt Middle School. He is looking forward to starting high school in the fall. Andy plays soccer and the clarinet in the school band.

The family enjoys watching movies together, walking their dog, and visiting the mountains whenever possible. Jose enjoys cooking and even studied culinary arts for a time. However, Jose says his cooking “never turns out the way I want it to”.

Jose says owning a home will give his family a feeling of security because they will not have to worry about the cost of rent increasing or their landlord forcing them to move. “I think that once we have gone through the process of building our home we can value it a lot more knowing what it took to make this all happen”, he says. “My wife and I have lived in many different places trying to give our son a better life and a more secure life. I think that this will be the last step in achieving that goal. No more having to worry about where we will have to move next year.”

Latoya Ramseur Family

Latoya and her 13 year old son, Ny’meir, are currently living with family in Maiden. Latoya is on disability and is unable to work at this time, but she keeps busy helping her relatives by watching their children when they need a hand. Ny’meir currently attends Maiden Middle School as an 8th grader and is already thinking ahead with plans to attend college.

Latoya’s family enjoys attending church, playing and watching basketball and just having some good time together as family.

Latoya has been through an unsettling set of circumstances with her health and living situation and now lives with family, paying rent and carrying her weight as part of a larger household.

When Latoya first found out she was accepted as a Habitat homebuyer she says her heart was filled with joy! She said, “I first thanked God and then I shared the good news with my mom and my son. “ Ny’Meir gets excited about having their own home and is anxious to help his mom with some of her sweat equity.

Yesica Xiong Family

Yesica and her 2 children, Aedrey, 11 years old, going into 7th grade, and Yestin, 9 years old, going into 4th grade, are excited that their house will soon be built. A brand new house in a brand new neighborhood! The Xiong/Pham family is currently living with Yesica’s parents and other family members.

Yesica works for Catawba Valley Medical Center on the surgical floor as a CNA/Unit Secretary working 3,12-hour shifts. She also works for a local attorney, a few hours each week when they need extra help. Yesica has a Bachelors degree in criminal justice and has given thought to a job in the justice system when she is settled in her new home. Her parents were refugees in Thailand and immigrated to Argentina where Yesica was born. At the age of 12, she and her family were able to join family members when they immigrated to the United States. She is now fluent in 3 languages and finds that it has helped her in her CVMC position and imagines it will continue to be useful in whatever else she undertakes.

Kellie Houston

I’m a server and trainer,and I love working with the public. I have two grown sons. Kristopher is 21 years old and attended Newton Conover High School. He is an avid golfer and helps with the high school team. He’s employed at RSI Home Products. My eldest son Scotty is 24 years old. He too attended Newton Conover High School and then went on to graduate from Kings College. He currently works for J & W Pawn Shop. I enjoy yoga and volunteering on my days off. I am currently attending New Life Baptist Church.

Billy & Tasha

Billy works 3rd shift as a Line Operator and Tasha faces the daily challenges of being a stay-at-home Mom for Autumn (3) and Gabriel (1). She hopes that when the kids are both old enough to be in school, she’ll be able rejoin the workforce to help earn more money for the family.

With their hectic schedule, both Billy and Tasha consider their family time to be very special. The young family attends Eastern Sky Church of God in Conover to maintain and build their love and faith. The kids enjoy watching Sesame Street and other kids’ shows, playing with their dog Daisy, and just being with each other. You can feel the love.

Ie & Jeramie

Ie and Jeramie live with their 2-year old daughter, Faith in a small apartment in Hickory. Ie works at Legrand as an assembler on first shift and Jeramie is busy as a stay-at-home dad and keeps busy with Faith!

Jeramie loves to play soccer and fish in his free time, and Ie enjoys creating new looks with make up.

The family’s apartment is crowded and there is nowhere for Faith to play outdoors. They were very excited when they found out they were accepted into Habitat’s program. They couldn’t wait to tell both of their families near and far.


Mahongany and her 2 daughters live in a 2 bed-room apartment in Hickory. Mahongany works at Kingston Residence of Hickory serving residents breakfast, lunch and sometimes dinner.

Zamya (12), attends Northview Middle school and Anashia (8) attends Southwest Elementary. Both girls are making A’s & B’s.

Mahongany and her girls like to stay at home cooking and cleaning and watching movies. Once in a while the girls go to Skateland on Saturdays.

Chris and Annie

Chris and Annie have 5 children from age 6 to newborn. Chris is the Principal of Christian Family Academy, and Annie is a busy stay-at-home mom. Their children: John, age 6, is eager to start school this year and loves being outside; Makayla, a sweet 4-year old girl loves catching bugs and dressing up like a princess; Josh is a 3-year old Lego maniac, and possibly a future architect; and Gabriel age 1 is busy doing everything he sees his brothers doing! In the midst of the family fun, new arrival, Ryan Christopher seems to be enjoying all the sibling love coming his way.

This busy family enjoys playing outside and visiting with family. The kids work together, wrestling daddy or playing tag. Chris coaches volleyball and soccer and Annie enjoys making celebration cupcakes. The family is active in their church.


Keondra is a CNA at Trinity Village. She plans to start back to college for social work soon. Her son, Ky’Uir will be 4 years old this year! He loves Thomas the Train and enjoys reading books and interacting with others.

Commenting on her current living environment, Keondra says, “We are currently living in a 2 bedroom apartment and I don’t feel safe there. It will be great to have a home of our own.”

When she found out she was accepted into the program she was shocked and couldn’t believe the news. Emotions rushed in and she shares, “I was scared because I know this will be a new life journey for me.” She called her close friend and gave her the news. Keondra exclaims, “We’re both very happy for the new blessing.”