This was never more evident than when Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland Inc. recently dedicated a group of new homes while handing over their keys to four beaming family partners who had a willingness to pursue their dreams through hard work, sweat equity and perseverance, and reached their long-anticipated fruition.
Each is now counted among the thousands of proud Cleveland and Bradley County homeowners.
We congratulate the families of Garry Phanor, Nancy Meade, Robin Nolte and Steve Whitener whose courage to build leaves a lasting mark on the hearts of their Habitat partners, corporate sponsors and company volunteers who have closed out another successful year for the local home-building organization.
In spite of it all, Habitat for Humanity closed the year by constructing 10 new homes while completing a long line of repair projects made necessary by the devastating spring storms.
But this pride of Cleveland is not yet finished.
Before year’s end, Habitat volunteers and professional contractors will have completed the construction of two homes for Bradley County families who survived those 12 hours of infamy when at least five frightening funnels — and arguably more based on smaller spin-offs — ripped through our community, taking nine lives, destroying 285 homes and badly damaging hundreds of others.
For some families, reconstruction is coming slowly for any number of reasons. The toil and sheer emotion of such recovery is exhausting for any family. But their morning light will emerge beyond the horizon and they too will regain their “New Normal,” a popular expression now used regularly to describe Bradley County’s goal of full recovery.
Now more than ever, Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland holds an endearing role in our community’s future because the organization has stepped forward boldly to lend its support to the long and exhausting road to recovery. Habitat was among the first organizations to reach out to storm survivors, and since those tragic and wakeful hours it has assumed lead roles in Bradley County’s rebuild.
One such role, among many, is Matt Carlson, executive director of the local Habitat group, who co-chairs the Bradley County Long-Term Recovery Organization. Carlson has made it Habitat’s personal business to be directly involved. This has been evident since April 28, and no let-up is in sight.
Yet, Habitat also continues its traditional quest — to partner with families who want to build their homes, but who need just a little help in the offing. Within the Habitat world, it is called a “Hand Up.”
“ was a very challenging, but also very fulfilling, year as we have been able to complete 10 homes,” Carlson told our newspaper recently. “We have completed a number of repair projects and are currently working closely with LTRO to complete the two new builds for tornado survivors.”
But no one individual and no single organization completes such miracles working alone.
Constructing the year’s final four new homes required a full team of partners, suppliers, professionals and others who believe in the Habitat mission.
The miracles also included invaluable sponsors who became the first step in giving hope to the dream. They included Easy Auto, Ocoee Region Builders Association, Bank of Cleveland, City of Cleveland, First Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Broad Street United Methodist Church, Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati, the Tennessee Housing Development Agency and Neighborhood Stabilization Program, and a slew of in-kind sponsors.
We congratulate them all.
We thank each one.
As Bradley County marches toward its “New Normal,” Habitat for Humanity leads the way.