The Cleveland nonprofit was named recipient of the state organization’s prestigious Affiliate of the Year and Leader of the Year honors during the recent 2012 Habitat for Humanity of Tennessee State Conference in Murfreesboro.
The Affiliate of the Year award was presented to the entire staff of the local Habitat while the Leader of the Year designation went to Matt Carlson, executive director of the Cleveland organization. Carlson has co-chaired the work of the Bradley County Long-Term Recovery Organization in the aftermath of last year’s tornado outbreak that destroyed 285 local homes, moderately or severely damaged hundreds of others and killed nine people.
During the state conference, Carlson was described as a man “worthy of any award that has to do with leadership.” He was described by another state conference official as someone who is “... innovative in his thinking and truly lives out a life of service to his community.”
Making the presentation to Carlson for leadership honors, and to the affiliate’s staff for the team honor, were Colleen Dudley, director of Habitat for Humanity of Tennessee; State Sen. Jim Tracy who serves as a member of Habitat for Humanity of Tennessee’s board of directors; and Ted Fellman, representing the Tennessee Housing Development Agency.
Habitat affiliate representatives who were alongside Carlson to receive the affiliate award were Kalin Morris, Jess Barnette, Tammy Johnson, Ken Brock, Paulette Smart, Jerry Franitza and Annie Kinworthy.
According to a Habitat for Humanity news release, the Affiliate of the Year award recognized the local organization for its community response following the April 27, 2011 tornadoes. In order to swing its full support to the local recovery effort, the Cleveland affiliate temporarily suspended its traditional construction program in order to partner with other community organizations to begin the long and daunting task of storm recovery. This included the repair of damaged homes and the rebuild of destroyed residences.
“Despite the tragic circumstances, Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland was able to assist with recovery and stay on track with its goal of completing 10 [Habitat] homes,” according to state Habitat for Humanity officials while presenting the pair of awards.
In accepting the Leader of the Year recognition, Carlson told the large Murfreesboro assembly, “My greatest accomplishment this year was fathering my new 6-week-old baby boy, Nile.” The infant was the first for Carlson and his wife, Heather.
“The Leader of the Year award is reflective of our entire staff,” Carlson told the Cleveland Daily Banner later. “As I have always said, our Habitat affiliate is only as successful as the Cleveland and Bradley County community is involved. I accepted this award, but it was more appropriately a recognition, and a public thank you, to the residents of this community who have remained committed to our full recovery.”
Carlson, who is the immediate past president of the state Habitat for Humanity organization, acknowledged the affiliate award meant more to him.
“The Affiliate of the Year award reflects the involvement of so many Habitat people — our board of directors, our staff and our dedicated volunteers,” Carlson stressed. “It shows all the hard work we have put into helping our community to rebuild and to come back from the storms of April 2011. I am appreciative of the Leader of the Year award, but the affiliate award takes such a special meaning ... because it honors the efforts of so many people and so many organizations and businesses whose shared vision was getting our community back on its feet.”
Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland continues in its leadership role with storm recovery, but its focus on providing decent, affordable housing for deserving area families has also returned. By year’s end, Habitat will have partnered with 10 families and multiple businesses and sponsors to build 10 new homes.
Later this year, the local Habitat affiliate will celebrate the construction of its 100th home in 22 years since its establishment in 1990. The 100th home will be finished this fall in Century Village, an exclusive Habitat for Humanity subdivision on 20th Street adjacent to Blythe-Bower Elementary School.
To date, Century Village includes 30 homes. By its completion, the subdivision will have 40 or more.
Also by the end of 2012, the local affiliate will have completed 35 home repair projects through its “Brush with Kindness” program while also finishing two more storm rebuild projects. Since the April 2011 storms, Habitat will have partnered with other community organizations assimilated by LTRO in the total rebuild of four new homes.
A Third Award:
Since being named to the Habitat for Humanity of Tennessee honors, the local affiliate has garnered yet another recognition. This one is the 2011 EnergyRight Solutions New Homes Builder of the Year for the Southeast District. The award was presented by TVA and Cleveland Utilities.
According to a joint news release by TVA and CU, “Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland completed eight Energy Star-rated new homes in the Southeast District that were built with a level of expertise and energy-efficiency that provides many advantages for the homeowners.”
The EnergyRight New Homes Plan is designed to encourage the construction of energy-efficient, all-electric new homes in the Tennessee Valley, according to TVA and CU officials.
“A new home qualifies for the program’s EnergyRight label by achieving an overall energy-efficiency rating that exceeds the level of energy efficiency required by recognized energy codes for residential construction,” the TVA and CU announcement explained. “For homeowners, EnergyRight translates into increased comfort and savings.”