Providing homes, community, and hope

By Daniel Brunty The Winston County Journal

Last year, the Winston County Habitat for Humanity selected the Dennis Hooks family to receive their latest Habitat House. Since then, the project has seen its share of ups and downs, but overall it has made great progress over the past year. The Winston County HFH is an all volunteer affiliate. The members include: Glenda Johnson, Bennie Sanders, Jason Cagle, Julie Cunningham, Diane Haggard, Larry Haggard, Dean Miller, Grady Suttle, and John Upchurch. Volunteers and donations have kept the project going in the right direction. With the project still in need of funding, however, HFH has been doing all they can to see the completion of the house before the end of the year. Glenda Johnson, President of the Winston County HFH outlined the current project as well as future goal of HFH. “The current Habitat home we are building has been completely different from any house we have ever built,” said Johnson. “This home is the largest house due to the largest family we have ever served. We also had to have new plans drawn due to the site being long and narrow. We have never had a family of five before. Each house that we built before has only been for two or three people.” Johnson also explained the importance of the volunteers during this whole process as well. “Since the first block was laid for the current Habitat house on February 2nd, we have had approximately five to fifteen people working every day, all day,” said Johnson. “So that by February 26th, even with rain delays, the roof was on the house. And this was all due to the dedication of the volunteers we had working on the home. The volunteers have been just wonderful. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect volunteers to come every single day. I expected they would come on weekends, nights, or evenings only. But they came every day all day.” Johnson also credits the progress done with the expertise of the volunteers who are working on the home. “We had a lot of volunteers to offer help, but most of them were not skilled laborers,” said Johnson. “During different points of building the home, skilled laborers are needed. The core group of men who came on board worked every single day was skilled laborers. That was a big plus for us. We also had skilled plumbers, electricians and roofers come out to help. Pearson Plumbing, Dallas Mills, Keith Ming, Willie Ball, Larry Hemphill, “Junior” Burton, Todd Russell and Young Handyman Services have helped us tremendously. They have been a wonderful asset.” David Crowson is the main contractor for the house. The core groups of volunteers working on the Hooks home are Gene Hill, Larry Watkins, Deacon Jones, David Keene, James Sloan, John Upchurch, David Degruise, Randy Hodges, and Dobbin Johns. Johnson also wanted to give a very special thank you to David Crowson and Gene Hill for overseeing the work. Johnson is also proud of the fact that the community has been pitching in by providing meals to the volunteers. “One of the things we have never been able to do before is have someone or some business provide meals every single day for the volunteers,” said Johnson. “ That has been a big help. People don’t realize how much that means to us.” Businesses and individuals who have provided those meals include Mr. & Mrs. Henry Brandt, Bancorp South, Sonic Drive-In, McDonald’s, Johnna Williamson, Judy McLeod, Cuppa, Frances Ball, Pizza Hut, Billie Kay Triplett, Elaine Torgerson, Melanie Yates, and Kay Todd. Johnson also gave a brief overview of HFH’s past projects, as well as future endeavors of the organization. “Before this house we built two houses for Habitat. One is built out in the county, and the other was built in the city,” said Johnson. “Our goals are going to be building at least one house a year. We haven’t been able to make that happen yet. We would like to have the next family for the next house that is going to be built picked while we are still building the house before that. They can then use their “sweat equity” on the current home. Down the road we want to not only just build houses but build whole communities.” She also discussed programs that HFH would like to incorporate into Winston County. “We have different sorts of programs we have not utilized yet,” said Johnson. “We have a program called “A Brush with Kindness”. It means you go down a neighborhood street and maybe you see a home that needs a fresh coat of paint, or some landscaping done. That would be taken care of by Habitat. Another program we will try to utilize after the building of the current home is called “Serving Those Who Have Served”, which is a program designed specifically towards veterans to help them. We can get government monies to help with this program.” The Hooks home took a detour at the end of February, when funds for construction ran out and delayed the building process. “Each Habitat house we have built in Winston County was started before we not had enough money to finish and yet in an appropriate amount of time we had a finished home that was debt free,” said Johnson. “For each of those homes we had volunteers that worked mostly evenings and weekends so we had time to gather funds to finish the home. Unfortunately the money has not been able to keep up with the speed of the work on the home. We have had to cut back on the work on the home until have funding available to buy building materials.” To assist with funding, HFH held their 2nd Annual Banquet on March 17, 2012 at Lake Tiak O’Khata in order to raise funds to continue the project. During the banquet, guest speaker Executive Director and COO of HFH Paul “Trey” Griffin Jones III, made a challenge to the residents of Winston County that a 1000 people to donate $100 a month, or 100 people to donate $1,000 a month. Johnson said she would like to see this happen. With the success of the banquet, construction started back on the Hooks home on March 19. The project still has a way to go, and Johnson is hoping to get additional funding from the community to finish. “Habitat for Humanity is a Christian organization that relieves poverty housing worldwide,” said Johnson. “Habitat teaches families how to be financially responsible. Habitat for Humanity leads by example, therefore we must raise more funds to finish the house so that we will only order what we can pay for. Please help us finish this with a generous donation.” BancorpSouth makes annual donation to Habitat for Humanity Habitat for Humanity of Winston County recently received a monetary donation from BancorpSouth of Louisville. BancorpSouth is an active support of Habitat for Humanity and has made the donation annually as well as encouraged employees to get involved in the project. “As a community lender, we at BancorpSouth are proud to be a partner in Habitat’s efforts to make Winston County a better place to live and work,” said Jason Cagle of BancorpSouth. Employees from BancorpSouth also participated as volunteers in the organization’s onsite work recently. Cagle encourages the community to support the ongoing home building project.