In one of the newest Holston Habitat for Humanity houses, three family members have been enjoying the space and comfort of their own home for a little over a month and a half. This very special gift did not, however, arrive neatly wrapped underneath their tree.
"The Holston Habitat for Humanity application and partnership process takes time and requires a commitment to several components of successful home ownership," said Laura Swanson, director of Holston Habitat for Humanity.
Each family contributes 500 hours of "sweat equity," the physical labor that a partner family contributes to the Habitat ministry. Families also attend Homeowner Education sessions which instruct potential homeowners in developing a budget and tracking expenses, job site safety, insurance, and fire safety, among other topics. Families are required to participate in the Downpayment Savings Program, which serves to get the potential homeowner in the habit of saving for emergencies by requiring them to put aside $50 each month. The money is applied to the closing costs.
Many volunteer groups helped with the construction of the Hooven’s house: Colonial Heights Presbyterian Church; Eastman Chemical Company; the Hooven family, including Mom Paula; Joshua, 18; Jesse, 14; and their friends.
Having no previous construction experience, the two boys learned quickly under the patient guidance of the Holston Habitat crews. The boys learned about insulation, flooring and window installation, basic landscaping and lawn maintenance. But, more importantly, they experienced hard work, patience, commitment - and the importance of a good sense of humor.
"We laughed every day," said Paula. "The guys were great to work with and the boys thoroughly enjoyed themselves."
While the boys helped on the house itself, Paula took classes on what it means to be a homeowner: including the financial responsibilities, maintenance issues, etc., and made it a point to share this important information with her sons.
"I am so blessed to have the privilege of being Joshua and Jesse’s momma. I want them to know that God will be with them always. No matter what they go through in life, He will always provide for them and love them. Through hard work and dedication, they can achieve whatever they put their minds to," said Paula.
"Over the last couple of years, while in the Habitat Program, I have watched them grow as young men. Seeing them participate and interact with the volunteers, not only on our home but with other Habitat Families, has been the greatest blessing. My hope is that they will carry this experience with them throughout their lives and will one day pass what they have learned on to their children. Our lives have been forever changed by the Habitat program."
So was all the hard work worth it? Very much so, according to the younger son, Jesse.
"Our new house gives us a nice, warm, comfortable place to live, a place to hang out with friends, have extended family over for dinner - and we each have our own bedroom."
"It’s great," 18-year-old Joshua agreed. "I can listen to or play music and think, without a lot of outside noise and distraction."
Joshua wasted no time in converting part of the basement into his own music studio, where he composes music and plays one of his six guitars.
Since its establishment locally in 1985, Holston Habitat has deeded 206 new and 26 recycled homes to 232 families. In 2012, 10 families received homes built in six areas: Kingsport, Johnson City, Jonesborough, Bristol, Elizabethton and, for the first time, Blountville.
If you are interested in volunteering time or making a financial contribution or material donation to the ReStore (formerly the Habitat ReSale Store) located at 750 East Main St. in Kingsport, contact the Holston Habitat for Humanity office at 423-239-7689.
Habitat For Humanity: Bringing people together to build homes, communities, and hope.ã€€