On Friday afternoon among friends new and old, mother of two, Jerica Davis, got the start to a bright new future.

Davis was presented the keys to her Habitat for Humanity home, located on East Newton Street in Alcoa. Despite COVID-19, volunteers and staff of the nonprofit were able to get the job done. The process that led to this celebratory day began in late fall 2019; the build was sponsored by the Blount County Habitat for Humanity ReStore.

This is the 165th house that Habitat has built in partnership with the community and families that are in need of decent, affordable shelter said Vanessa Painter, development director.

Davis was overjoyed Friday as she began her new life as a homeowner. She will be joined in her new home by her two children, Makenna, 8, and Austin, 7. She is employed by Blackberry Mountain and has lived in Blount County for eight years, graduating from Heritage High School.

“Beyond grateful” is how Davis described herself in the hours before the dedication. She said she has been in the Habitat program since August 2019. Each homeowner has to put in volunteer hours, called “sweat equity.” She worked on her own home and those of others, too.

She was also required to take classes in the months leading up to her home dedication. They were valuable to this first-time homeowner.

“They taught me how to budget money, they taught me all the things about a mortgage,” Davis said. She added that the time on the home sites was important to her growth as well.

“I learned a lot of important skills,” Davis explained. “They had a class to teach home maintenance and I learned a lot. I learned how to make home repairs.”

This family has been living in an apartment where Davis worries about their safety. Her rent there has continued to rise which made this single mom doubt she would ever own a home. Then, she joined the Blount County Habitat Homeownership Program. Davis heard about it through her aunt, who also owns a Habitat home.

“Safety was the big concern,” Davis said of her current living situation.

The beauty of home ownership will include being able to play in the yard, Davis said. She loves taking her kids to the river, going on walks and watching movies together. The kids have been to the site multiple times to help clean, etc. They each will have their own rooms.

Davis’ mom, Becky Correll, was able to witness this special day. She said her daughter can’t wait to enjoy the neighborhood and large yard. Davis’ sister and other family members came out for the home dedication as well.

“I am so proud of her,” Correll said of her daughter. “She has worked hard for this.”

In addition to the ReStore, other supporters for this home include Blount Needles, Honey Baked Ham, Second Harvest Food Bank, Whirlpool, Willing Hands Quilting Group of Beech Grove Baptist Church, artist DeeDee Edele, Black Bear Mountain Arts Quilters at Maryville Church of Christ, and Habitat’s group of dedicated volunteers.

Faith, hope and love

Davis said that complete strangers would donate their time to building her home is amazing and gives her hope. She has not yet decided when she will be moving in.

“This means the world to me,” she said before the dedication took place.

ReStore is a venture if Blount County Habitat. Its mission is to provide simple, decent, affordable homes for families in need through the sale of donated items at discounted prices. ReStore is located at 548 Foothills Plaza Drive, Maryville.

Community residents who donate items to be sold there help Habitat homeowners achieve self-reliance through shelter, explained Painter. But that’s not all. ReStore also diverts tons of waste from the local landfill and offers DIY shoppers, bargain seekers and collectors an ever-changing selection of merchandise.

“In addition, the ReStore collaborates with several other community agencies including Haven House, Red Cross and Family Promise to support their clients’ crisis needs for clothing, household items and furnishings,” Painter explained.

ReStore employees were on hand on this muggy Friday afternoon, including general manager Fred Plummer. Joy Eargle, a member of the Habitat board of directors was in attendance, too, along with Kathy Jackson, BCHFH executive director.

“This is what Habitat is all about,” Eargle told the crowd gathered on the front lawn. She said Davis worked tremendously hard to reach her goal of homeownership. “She is a great example of a Habitat homeowner.”

The next Habitat home will get underway soon and will be the first in the new development, called Hall’s Place on Spurlock Circle in Alcoa. It is sponsored by a bequest from the estate of Anne Hall Johnson.

When the dedication of this home was over, Davis look toward the crowd and told them, “Thank you all. We are so excited to have our new home.”

Then all were invited inside to take a look around.

Melanie joined The Daily Times in the early 90s and has served as the Life section editor since 1993. A William Blount and UT alum, Melanie is generally the early arriver who turns on the lights in the newsroom.

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