Give the Gift of Decent, Affordable Housing This Holiday Season
Pikes Peak Habitat for Humanity has two Enterprise Zone (EZ) approved projects. Donations of $250 or more are eligible to be processed as an EZ contribution. Donors who make an eligible donation can claim 25% of their donations as a state income tax credit. Tax credits are capped at $100,000 per taxpayer per tax year, but the remaining credits can carry forward up to five years. If you would like to process your donation through the EZ, please make your check out to Pikes Peak Enterprise Zone, and write PPHFH in the memo line. If donating via credit card through the form above, please reach out to Emma Price, Assistant Donor Relations Manager, to process your contribution through the EZ.
Originally from Kurdistan, Gilas built a successful career as a teacher and later a school principal. When her homeland became too dangerous, the family fled to the United States—and she had to start over.
“I was the educated one, and I didn’t speak any English!” she says. “Oh, I cried a lot.”
She adds, “It was really, really hard for me to move here and leave everything behind, especially my [extended] family and my job.”
Once arriving in El Paso County, Gilas enrolled in English as a Second Language classes and eventually began studying at Pikes Peak Community (now State) College, with the goal of becoming a medical assistant.
After a year and a half, she was hired as a vaccinator at the Broadmoor World Arena—putting herself on the front lines against COVID-19. That led to a new career as a phlebotomist, a field in which she’s worked full-time for the past two years.
Learning a new language and rebuilding a professional life aren’t the only challenges she’s faced, though. As a single mom, she struggles with the high cost of living in El Paso County. She and her 12-year-old son share a one-bedroom apartment. “I tried to get at least a townhome, but with one income it was so hard for me to afford,” she explains.
And she’s experienced some unsafe conditions in her neighborhood. “I was going to pick up my son from school, and then I got attacked by three pit bull dogs,” she says.
She’s looking forward to feeling more secure in her Pikes Peak Habitat home—“to live in my house and be safe and be happy and have great neighbors, neighbors to depend on!” says Gilas.
Homeownership is a key piece of the new life she’s building in the United States. She became a citizen a few months before her acceptance into Pikes Peak Habitat’s program.
“When you get your citizenship, it feels more that this is your home,” she explains, “People here are so friendly. They’re really helpful,” she says. “I can never see myself loving another [U.S.] state. Here is so quiet; I like it, and I like the weather, too.”
She looks forward to having her own space and especially her own kitchen – and her son is thrilled about the possibilities that having a home will offer him, too!
“Every single day, he’s saying, ‘Well, I’m going to put this in my room. We’re going to have a house; we’re going to have a backyard! I’m going to plant this; maybe I will get some birds,’” Gilas enthuses. “He is really, really, really excited!”
As a parent, she’s pleased that her son will have his own room and a stable place to live. As a Kurdish-American, she understands the need for him to have roots in the United States.
“It’s really, really important for my son, because I’m not going back home to live there,” she says. “Pretty much, English is the first language for my son. I cannot mess up with his education, so getting this house is really important. It made me settle more and work harder, honestly, and raise my son in the house. It’s really exciting!”