Two families reached the end of a journey Sunday that started in 2017 when they sought ownership of a home through Loudon County Habitat for Humanity.
Several community representatives were present in the Hope Haven neighborhood in Loudon to welcome Kelli Williams and her family, along with Evan Cheatham and his family.
“Every house is special whether it be a new home or one that is being rehabbed,” Tony Gibbons, local Habitat for Humanity executive director, said. “At the end of the day, it’s ownership for a family. ... Mostly it’s about these two families because both these families came into the program and they had a long road in front of them and they rose to the occasion, took on the challenges and got in position to be good homeowners.”
Both families were presented a Bible and gifts from the Village Quilters, Tellico Village Garden Club, Modern Woodmen of America and the Tellico Village Computer Users Club.
Having a house for her two children, Joseph and Morgan, is special for Williams.
“It’s something that I worked hard for,” she said.
Owning a house is a first since a divorce fives years ago. She’s been living in an apartment and was tired of paying rent.
With tears in her eyes, she said the home will be “something of our own.”
“It’s not been quite two years,” Williams said of her time working toward the house. “It’ll be two years the last week of October. So it’s been a journey.”
Habitat homeowners are required to put in 250 sweat equity hours per adult.
“The sweaty equity, it’s not something ... that we want to diminish its role,” Gibbons said. “The family is putting in hours on somebody else’s house, which definitely reflects the giving nature, but it’s also training them. It provides a threshold for commitment and investment on their end. We have families that are working third shift and they will come in and work two to three hours after they get off shift just to get their hours in because they can’t fit it in somewhere else. We had one guy who took his two-week vacation to get in 80 of his hours. It is a significant investment on their part.”
Cheatham, a first-time homeowner, came with his fiancée, Amber King, and their two children, Sylar and Isabella.
“It’s taken a while to get the time put in and everything and it’s worth it,” he said. “We’ve met a lot of cool people along the way and they’ve helped us out, taught me a lot of stuff about construction that I didn’t know and how to upkeep on a house and things like that, and they gave me a lot of good financial advice also.”
He said the work toward home ownership was a challenge.
“There’s always ups and downs when — we’ve been doing it for almost two years now,” he said. “Sometimes you have a lot of time to get things done and then sometimes stuff gets in your way like a road block, you’ve got medical stuff going on, and all kinds of stuff. They help you along the way. ... It has been a journey and it’s coming to an end now and it’s cool because we’ve made some new friends.”
Gibbons said 119 families have been served by the local affiliate, with 116 new houses. In addition, Habitat has handled 60 critical repairs for low-income homeowners who aren’t in a position to modify their homes.
Hope Haven has four more vacant lots. Gibbons said there are plans to begin working on two homes in the fall.
Sponsors for Sunday’s dedications were Tennessee Housing Development Agency and Concord United Methodist Church. A representative from each gave the families a key to their new home.
This marks Concord’s 18th house in Loudon County and 20th overall.
“We want to give back to those and the Habitat program is a wonderful program for doing that,” Chuck Parmele, church Habitat committee chairman, said. “We’ve raised a sponsorship fee with the golf tournament and silent auction in August, it happens to be going on now, and then there are other organizations that contribute to the sponsorship fee. It’s part of the fabric of our church now and we’d like to have it involve new members of the church.”