Liz Gibson has a dream several organizations in Santa Rosa County are helping her realize: providing shelter, food, and care for homeless youth. Gibson said she found out there are 1,600 homeless youth in Santa Rosa County, 300 in Milton alone. She plans to give shelter to some of those youth in a 14-bedroom home sitting on 9 acres at the end of Whitmire Road in Milton. Speaking of the number of homeless youth, she said, "You just don't see it. I've lived here since 2007. I was naive to the whole problem." Gibson said she plans to live in the home with her husband and another couple acting as house parents. Gibson said the house was utilized as drug rehabilitation facility, assisted living, and a boys' ranch since its construction in 1905. During a tour of the house, she said the rooms share Jack-and-Jill style bathrooms and the two couples will stay in a bedroom on the first floor and one at the back of the second floor respectively. She also pointed out a common area on the second floor and a kitchen and dining room on the first. "We're hoping by the end of the year we'll be ready to take in children."
Debbie Sanspree with Keller Williams Realty said she found out about this endeavor through a friend. All through the house on Thursday, people in red shirts painted, scrubbed, raked, and carried leaves. Sanspree said Keller Williams annually has Red Day, a day where Keller Williams agents take on a project, usually in Pensacola, and do similar kinds of work. Clare Podemski, KW agent on the Agent Leadership Council, said Red Day honors Mo Anderson, vice chairman of Keller Williams International. Gibson said other organizations who have helped are Milton High School's NJROTC and Student Government Association, Jeff Kelly with drywall, Flynn Painting, Superior Granite who donated a countertop, Alyssa's Antique Depot who donated items and gave money through a raffle, and individuals who donated a van and a pool table.
Gibson said, "As long as there's a need for shelter, food, clothing, love, care, warmth, it's not just going to be a place to live."