Giving Back

Guest Column

Escaping from Violence to Find a Safe Home with Morris Habitat for Humanity


David Gavasheli and his wife, Nino Tsereteli, have been refugees of war two different times. In 1993, David was a professor of design at a college in Tbilisi, in the former Soviet republic of Georgia. An ethnic and political civil war was raging around the couple and their infant son. One night it came to their doorstep. “Five armed guys came to our house with machine guns, hit me on the forehead, and took everything,” David said. David and his family fled from their homeland to Haifa, Israel, where they lived for ten years. David worked as a stained glass artist, while Nino taught art. It was there that they had their second son. But again, they lived amidst escalating violence in the tumultuous Middle East.

David and Nino once again sought a safe place to live. The Gavashelis tried for three years to immigrate to the United States. The night before they learned they got their green card, Nino saw a white dove flying outside their window. The family hoped the bird was a sign that they would find a peaceful home. A year later, the Gavasheli family was living in subsidized housing in Madison, New Jersey. Their dream was starting to come true. David found work as a stained glass artist and interior designer, while Nino was a library assistant. Even with two salaries, however, the Gavashelis struggled financially. Their dream of owning a home seemed impossible.

In 2013, David and Nino partnered with Morris Habitat to build the safe and secure. Alongside hundreds of volunteers, the family of four framed walls, hung sheetrock, installed roofing and painted. “We did it with our own hands,” David stated. Then one day during construction, Nino saw a white dove flying between the home’s open beams. The Gavashelis felt it was as if the bird of peace they first saw in Israel had followed them to their new home. David said, “We saw it as a sign of hope and peacefulness for the future.”  Just above the entrance to his Morris Habitat, David created a stained glass window of a white dove resting among branches.

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Today, the Gavashelis are settled in their home. One son graduated from college and the other attends high school. But most importantly, each time they pass beneath the white dove, they are reminded of how their Morris Habitat home brought them peace and security. “We came to U.S., not just to find jobs, we came to become Americans,” David said. “Morris Habitat changed the life of my family and our future generations.”

Morris Habitat has worked for more than thirty years to help hardworking families have a safe, decent, and affordable place to live. But we can’t do it without your support. Please give generously to help us continue partnering with families like the Gavashelis and changing lives for life.

For more information on Morris Habitat and its activities, go to or call 973.891.1934.


About Morris Habitat for Humanity:

Morris Habitat for Humanity is part of a global, nonprofit housing organization operated on Christian principles by building homes, communities and hope. Morris Habitat is dedicated to eliminating substandard housing locally and worldwide through constructing, rehabilitating and preserving homes; advocating for fair and just housing policies; and providing training and access to resources to help families improve their living conditions. Habitat for Humanity was founded on the conviction that every man, woman and child should live in dignity and safety, and that decent shelter in decent communities should be a matter of conscience and action for all. Morris Habitat welcomes volunteers and supporters from all backgrounds and serves people in need of decent housing regardless of race or religion.

Since 1985 Morris Habitat has served 400 households though home ownership opportunities, home preservation, and international home building programs. Of these 79 home were home repair projects and 74 new homes were built as well.  Morris Habitat has set a goal of 12 housing starts for 2016, completing 9 homes during the year. In addition, proceeds from the ReStore, opened May 2007, have funded 23 homes and diverted almost 8,500 tons of useable material out of landfills.  Located at 274 South Salem Street, Randolph. Store hours: Tues & Thur 10 - 8 p.m., Wed, Fri & Sat 10 - 6 p.m.  


The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer. Click here to submit a Guest Column.

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