Bright Spots: Bringing a teacher home

Buying your first house is a milestone moment you’ll never forget. This week’s Bright Spots report highlights a local teacher and the team of people who are helping bring her home.

Depending on who you ask, a home can have a lot of different meanings.

No matter who you are, your first home is one you’ll never forget.

Jayla Gellington is an English teacher at Hale County Middle School, and she’s a soon-to-be first-time homeowner.

“This is going to sound very cliche, but it just, like, fell in my lap,” Gellington said.

After months of searching for the perfect home on her teacher’s salary, Gellington said she was getting discouraged.

“I was devastated,” Gellington said. “I told my parents ‘you know, just forget it. I am just going to come back and stay with you guys and be your roommate again.’ ”

That’s when everything changed.

“I literally opened my email, and I am telling you, Alex and his Famous Friends organization just fell it my lap,” Gellington said.

Famous Friends is a nonprofit started by a man from Boston named Alex Payne. Its purpose is helping hometown heroes become hometown homeowners.

“We know that a lot of times these local heroes want to purchase a home in town, but a lot of times they don’t have the down payment saved up because of student loans or rent being so expensive these days,” Payne said. “We are able to bridge that gap. We provide a gift in the form of a down payment. So going forward those monthly payments can go toward building home equity instead of paying rent and local heroes are going to be in town forever.”

Payne said it was harder than he thought to give away this money. He reached out to Jayla’s alma mater, the University of West Alabama, to see if they would connect him with heroes he could help.

That’s how Jayla Gellington became the first “famous friend” to receive help from Payne’s organization.

“Jayla is the perfect candidate,” Payne said. “It is so refreshing to talk to somebody like her. I live in Boston, and you can get a little jaded. People aren’t as friendly all the time as they are in other parts of the country. With Jayla, I could see her life in front of her and all the lives she is going to touch. It could not have worked out any better.”

Jayla recently put in an offer on her dream home, and it was accepted.

“It really feels like I am dreaming right now,” she said. “I am 24, so I am going to have my own house. It’s going to be mine. It is crazy. I just want to say you guys have no idea how Truly grateful I am for all of you, for this opportunity. I feel like God placed you all in my life at the perfect time. I blinked and everything just happened. I am forever grateful to all of you, and I thank you so much. I will invite everybody to my housewarming party.”

If you have a Bright Spots you’d like to share, you can submit your ideas right here.

Categories: Bright Spots, Featured, Local News