From one generation to the next


When you step inside the threshold of Carolyn Kelly’s home, you immediately feel that you are in a welcoming environment.

For 43 years, this house on Brown Street in West Philadelphia has served as the family meeting place for four generations of Kellys. The home passed from Carolyn’s aunt to her mother Lucille, and now to Carolyn.

As a young woman in the 1980s, Lucille moved from South Carolina to their current home in Mill Creek. Carolyn was six years-old at the time.

“Everything happens here,” Carolyn shares. Every birthday, holiday, or event is celebrated in this home. At Thanksgiving, up to 20 people can be found enjoying a home-cooked meal which always includes Lucille’s famous banana pudding.

Lucille’s six great-great grandchildren live in and around Philadelphia and are frequent visitors, drawn back to the inviting environment that Carolyn and Lucille have fostered.

The Kelly family actively worked together over the years to keep the home as safe as possible. However, with the age of the home, structural repairs became more difficult to fix on their own. And for such a welcoming space, the home literally lacked warmth. For the past 15 year the family relied on space heaters in the winter months.

Carolyn outside her home in Mill Creek.

While they remained optimistic that they could keep up with the maintenance, Carolyn notes that her sisters, who grew up in the home alongside her, were particularly worried as they watched the ongoing issues from the outside. There was a growing concern that they might need to sell the cherished family gathering place.

Carolyn knew Habitat’s repair work was present in their neighborhood. One day, a repair flier sat at her doorstep and she knew that she could not miss the opportunity to apply.

Habitat’s Home Repair Program team is replacing the gas heater, repairing the walls of the back room, installing new windows, and reconstructing and reflooring the deteriorating bathroom. This ensures that working heat will be retained within the home during the cold months, and everyone who visits the home will be safe, warm, and dry. Habitat also rebuilt the roof on the back porch, Lucille’s favorite place to sit in the summer months. With repairs underway, Carolyn has already noticed a sharp decrease in their utility bills.

Once the repairs are complete, Carolyn and Lucille plan to have a big family celebration. For Carolyn, the repairs symbolize an importance that she is able to care for and provide for her mother in this home the same way her mother cared for and raised their family here.  With Habitat’s partnership, this family gem will continue to be the warm and welcoming environment the family enjoys, and can continue to be passed down for generations to come.