ERWIN — Monica Tipton and her 4-year-old son Brayden turned the first spades of dirt for construction of their new house on Grove Street Tuesday with help from Habitat for Humanity of Unicoi County.
The working mother said she considered her chance to take part in the faith-based, affordable homebuilding program a privilege for which she thanked God and Habitat for Humanity.
Members and supporters of the county’s affiliate chapter of the worldwide Habitat for Humanity organization gathered at the site of its fourth home build at 611 Grove St. Tuesday afternoon to ceremonially break ground, thank the contributors who have brought the project this far and encourage other volunteers to join in.
For monetary and in-kind gifts of labor and materials to the Tipton home, Habitat for Humanity board member Bill Gaines thanked contributors, including NN Inc., the United Way, the towns of Unicoi and Erwin, Walmart, Centenary United Methodist Church, the Kiwanis Club, Tom Bowman of Bowman & Sons Construction Co., and Royal Building Products and Code Restoration of Bristol.
Brian Poston, volunteer coordinator for the project, said Royal Building has donated and will be installing top-of-line siding for the Tipton house and Code Restoration has donated and will install all the insulation.
Poston encouraged other volunteers who would like to take part in the build to pick up volunteer forms at his State Farm Insurance office at 1072 N. Main Ave., or to call him at 423-743-3311. No experience is necessary.
Fundraising Chairwoman Rene Keplinger said raising the money needed to launch a new home build is one of the most difficult challenges the local Habitat for Humanity chapter faces and reminded those who may wish to give their contributions are “a hand up, not a hand out.”
Gaines said Habitat homeowners not only work alongside volunteers in the construction of their homes, they take over the mortgage once the construction is complete. Like other Habitat homeowners, Gaines said Tipton will be putting 500 hours of “sweat equity” into her home’s construction and will work to pay it off after she and Brayden move in.
Tipton, who is also working through the home ownership educational program that Habitat for Humanity requires of all its homeowners, said she has been preparing for start of the construction for more than a year. When it is done, she said, she will be volunteering in the construction of houses for future Habitat homeowners.
For those who wish to contribute, Keplinger said, “every dollar helps” and will go toward the launch of the next Habitat for Humanity home built in Unicoi County.
For those who would like to contribute new or good used housewares or construction materials for resale to benefit the Unicoi County affiliate chapter of Habitat for Humanity, the Habitat for Humanity Restore in Johnson City will forward all proceeds from the sale of donations made in Unicoi County to the chapter.
More Information about the chapter and how to contribute is available online at www.habitat.org/cd/kit/homepage.aspx?page=unicoicotn and at the Habitat for Humanity of Unicoi County page on Facebook. Or more information may be obtained by contacting the Habitat for Humanity of Unicoi County office, located in the Centenary United Methodist Church parsonage at 203 N. Elm Ave., at 423-330-6357 or email@example.com.