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Habitat for Humanity offers ‘hand up’ not ‘hand out’

Habitat for Humanity offers ‘hand up’ not ‘hand out’
When volunteers arrived at the work site early on a Saturday morning to build a home for Michael and Akila Mitchell in Union City, the circumstances mirrored more than 40 other such opportunities offered in Obion County over the past few years.
For those who showed up at 212 North Dobbins St., including the future homeowners and their friends and family who were able to assist with the project, the goal was to build a good quality, affordable home for a family who could not otherwise enjoy the dream of owning their own dwelling. Because each project of the international Christian homebuilding organization relies, primarily, on volunteers and because the organization is able to secure the best prices for materials, construction costs are lower than usual. Often, land and/or funds to assist with the purchase of a lot and of the items necessary for raising the house are donated, making the purchase even more affordable. And, finally, the home will be offered to the family participating in its construction without interest attached to the loan, which represents a considerable savings through the years.
So while there were many similarities to previous Obion County builds — and, indeed, to construction projects around the world — this local early autumn event was unique in one way.
Designated “Coming Back Home,” the project was moving forward thanks to additional help in the form of a reimbursement grant from Tennessee Housing Development Agency. Tennessee Habitat for Humanity in Murfreesboro, which has an excellent relationship with THDA, was instrumental in this work, which calls for 45 such homes to be constructed in the Volunteer State, and Obion County, with its excellent reputation, was selected as one of the sites.
The grant agency stipulated that Tennessee legislators with ties to the area where the home was being built be involved so they could get a look at how the Habitat ministry works.
Legislators, including state Sen. Roy Herron of Dresden and state Reps. Bill Sanderson of Kenton and Andy Holt of Weakley County, not only observed the way the plan unfolded, they became actively involved in the work. They were joined by Obion County Mayor Benny McGuire, Union City Police Chief Joe Garner and the Rev. James Kinsey of Sunswept Baptist Church, who gave the devotion as work got under way. Jim Temple of the local codes department, who is a familiar and valued face for the local Habitat organization, also was on hand.
Obion County Habitat for Hu-manity executive director Judy Underwood welcomed the volunteers and introduced the future homeowners, Michael and Akila Mitchell and their children, Ka’lia, Kalani, Kaila and Amya, and talked about how God had answered the family’s prayers. She said their dreams were coming true that very day.
Judge Jimmy Smith, a founder and former president of OCHFH, introduced the elected officials joining the group as honored guests and co-workers and reviewed the Habitat story for those not familiar with it.
He added, “While Obion County is truly blessed to have so many worthwhile charitable organizations most, out of necessity, are only able to deal with the urgent daily needs of the less fortunate of our community. Because Obion County Habitat for Humanity is providing a house that a family makes a home, it is able to change that family for a lifetime rather than just a day. It gives the family a sense  of belonging in the community and perhaps, most importantly, gives the children, as well as their parents, a new sense of self worth that allows them to achieve and accomplish things, in school and beyond, that they never before realized were possible. It is with great pride, therefore, that OCHFH offers a “hand up’ and not a ‘hand out’as these new homeowners work to build their own house with ‘sweat equity’ and then pay for it over time with an interest free loan. It is a win-win situation for the family and our community.”
Kinsey provided the devotional and prayed for a good workday and for safety for all and blessings on the family. He also reminded those in attendance that a home is really built in vain, according to scripture, unless the Lord builds it.
The first wall was raised quickly, Mrs. Underwood said. “We found that the honored guests could swing a hammer and they proved to be just the same as any other volunteer with a heart to do the Lord’s work.”
Also among the volunteers welcomed to the site were a crew of builders from the Coast Guard in Hickman, Ky.
“These eight men with matching Coast Guard T-shirts arrived — hammers in hand — and were very instrumental in raising the roof. Jimmy mentioned how fitting it was that they were there on the very weekend of the 9/11 anniversary.”
Habitat board members also worked alongside members of Brooks Chapel Church in Fulton and the Rev. Jessie Webb.
“The Habitat board is so grateful for all the volunteers who make our work go forward. In particular, at the current site and on that special day, we were delighted to welcome the elected dignitaries; all volunteers, including those from Brooks Chapel Church and the Coast Guard; and Dennis Scarborough, who grilled some excellent food for us. In addition, Barker Brothers  donated a dumpster for our use and Edmaiston-Mosley Funeral Home let us use a tent. Everyone’s generosity of time, talent, hard work and funds helped make this a day the Mitchell family will be able to point to as testimony that prayers are answered,” Mrs. Underwood said.
Work continues on the home and volunteers are always welcome. Published in The Messenger 10.3.11

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