Millsaps, Shiverdecker families dedicate Habitat homes
By Rheta Murry | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Dreams do come true. Just ask two Blount County women whose hopes and dreams of home ownership came true this past week, thanks to Blount County Habitat for Humanity.
Habitat officials and friends dedicated two newly-constructed homes belonging to both the Millsaps and Shiverdecker families last Wednesday. Both homes, plus one still under construction, sit on the site of a 100-year-old home known for many years as the Harper House on the corner of East Harper Avenue and Wright Road, Maryville. Both homes were a part of two-home “blitz build.”
With impending weather threatening to drench the festivities, Tony Gibbons, CEO and president of the county chapter, decided to improvise. Instead of having the full program once for both families in the yard between the homes, as is standard with a two-home dedication, Gibbons presented both Pat Shiverdecker and Emmeline Millsaps gifts from area merchants and groups inside the Shiverdecker home. Both received such items as a quilt from Beech Grove Baptist Church Willing Hands Quilting Group, a basket of food and treats from Honey Baked Ham and a Family Bible from Habitat, which represented the Christian-based organization’s core values.
Susan Hughes, Habitat’s faith director, stood in the living room of both homes and blessed them, reading a poem written on the floor of a previous home by several college student workers. The prayer started “May this house serve not only as a shelter, but a living space for love and community. Bless this house as it has been made with intention, love, care, gratitude and a servant’s heart ... ”
The day Emmeline Millsaps learned she would receive a Habitat home, she called nearly everyone she knew with the great news. It was 22 months after she applied.
“I am excited to get out of my apartment,” said the lifelong Blount County resident.
Millsaps worked Tuesday and Thursday nights to pay her sweat equity, getting a babysitter to watch her now 4-year-old son, Caleb, as she worked.
At her home blessing, Millsaps choked back tears, as she thanked the volunteers for “all you have done.”
It’s been hard,” she said. “I miss Marshall (Cockrell). He helped me a lot.” Cockrell worked for awhile as construction supervisor on both homes.
Shiverdecker’s Handicapped Accessible Home
“When I first found out about my house ... my son was sleeping on the couch, my daughter in one room, and me in the other,” said Pat Shiverdecker. “When I first found out, it was a blessing. Shiverdecker, a disabled mother of two, and grandmother of one, will receive a four bedroom, two bath home. Alischa, 18, Christopher, 23, and granddaughter, Blakely, 4, will live in the home.
Shiverdecker sustained injuries on the job several years ago leaving her disabled, sometimes in a wheelchair. For this reason, Habitat officials designed her home as handicapped accessible. This includes wider doorways, shorter cabinets and a roll-in shower, all on one level.
“I was having to go outside to go to the laundry room, and now I will have a laundry room in the house, and have a tile bathroom and a shower.”
When putting in her ‘sweat equity’ hours, Shiverdecker performed less taxing work, such as scraping paint off windows and washing them in her and other habitat homes, “just little stuff that wouldn’t bother my back,” she said.
Both families should move into their new Habitat for Humanity homes within a few weeks, following the real estate closings and completion of other paperwork.
No free homes
Habitat for Humanity does not give away the homes. Instead, each recipient family must work at least 350 hours of “sweat equity” on both theirs and other homes. They also must attend classes on budgeting, home repair and other classes that will help them succeed as homeowners. And, they must qualify for the mortgage.