Work begins on Habitat for Humanity’s 2013 Women Build in Alcoa
By Melanie Tucker | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
On a morning that couldn’t have been any more beautiful, volunteers gathered at the site of Deborah Henry’s dream in Alcoa to pledge their part to make it happen.
The lot, located on Bell Street in Alcoa, will be where Henry, her daughter and grandson will have the home they’ve wished for. It’s the latest Habitat for Humanity house to go up in Blount County, with predictions Henry will be in it in a matter of 12 weeks.
On Thursday morning, representatives from Blount County Habitat for Humanity, Henry and volunteers climbed onto the floor of the home for a celebration and kickoff. This home is the construction project for the 2013 Women Build. This is the fifth Women Build in Blount County.
A reason to celebrate
“We will have a home right here where we stand in 10 to 12 weeks,” said Leslie Woodall, development director for Blount County Habitat for Humanity. “We are standing on the floor of this home that will be built by volunteers and businesses of this community.”
Colleen Maillie, pastor of Kirk Hills Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, blessed this house under construction and had everyone present take off their shoes as Moses did before God. She said to feel the foundation and know of the hard work that goes into it makes this such a meaningful experience.
“Bless the hope and hard work, the marrow of this home, walls, windows and door ways,” she said. “Bless the hammers and nails and measuring tapes and levels that will bear the brunt of the labor that will withstand the passage of time.”
The lead sponsor for the 2013 Women Build is Industrial Commutator Corp., located in the Blount County Industrial Park on Robert C. Jackson Drive. Tony Gibbons, president of Blount County Habitat for Humanity, said having this company as its lead sponsor on this project is a perfect fit. ICC is a woman-owned and women-operated manufacturing company.
President and CEO Laura Lyke was present Thursday morning to welcome those making commitments to this build. She told Henry this is indeed a special community.
“I am not from here,” she told Henry and others in the crowd. “I was born and raised in another country. But by virtue of the people who live in Blount County, this became my home. The people I work with are my family.”
Lyke then presented Gibbons with a check for $10,000. “We became part of this for so many reasons I can’t even begin to express,” she said.
Tracy Queen is general manager at ICC and agreed to be chair of the 2013 Women Build. She has worked over the last several months to recruit other businesses to come on board. The goal is to raise $40,000 she said.
This Saturday morning, Queen said employees from ICC will be on site to get the walls up on Henry’s home. She encouraged others to join in on the project.
She and others spoke about the slogan adopted by this build. “It’s not about excluding men, it’s about empowering women,” Queen said. “We have approached a lot of strong women and men in the community.”
Henry spoke to the gathering and expressed her appreciation to all who are coming alongside to help her. She has worked at Kroger for 29 years, starting out at the store in Alcoa. She now works in customer service at the Maryville Kroger.
“I am finally here,” she said as she looked around the work site. She was born and raised in Blount County and currently resides with her mother just one street over from where her new home is being constructed.
She said she was taking her 4-year-old grandson to school this morning and he saw the people gathered on Bell street.
“Nana, there are people at our house,” she said he told her. “Please, please, can I stay? Are they in my room?”
Receiving a blessing
Henry said it has been a lifelong dream to become a homeowner. She said she was married for 11 years when her husband passed away and they lost their home.
“This is truly a blessing,” she said. “Thank you all.”
Henry’s house is being built on one of the lots donated by ALCOA Inc. in celebration of their 100th anniversary. This one and the others will be energy-efficient, meaning Henry’s utility bills will be low.
Gibbons said over the last two decades, Blount County Habitat for Humanity has built 130 homes. Homes for people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford them.
Henry is required to put in 300 hours of work on her home and also attend budgeting classes. She will continue to volunteer at Habitat after taking over the mortgage and moving in to her Habitat home.
Those who attended the celebration Thursday were invited to sign the studs that will be going up in Henry’s home — one more way Henry can be reminded of what love and community are all about.