Mix the two — people with vision and organizations that excel — and you can bake a community cake whose taste is delightful and it keeps others coming back for more.
The analogy probably falls short on impact, but its message does not. The strength of any hometown is measured best by the people, and their causes, who dwell within.
Thousands of volunteers, and dozens of emergency-service organizations, civic groups and churches, have shared a hand in the recovery of Cleveland and Bradley County since the tragic happenings of April 27, 2011. During the 15-month aftermath, many of these partnerships have been recognized and further cemented by their ongoing community stewardship.
Most recently, a widely respected organization pivotal to our rebuild has earned two prestigious awards from its state parent; plus, a third recognition has been received for commitment to energy-conservation and the environment.
We speak of Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland Inc., one of 52 homebuilding affiliates in Tennessee.
At the recent 2012 Habitat for Humanity of Tennessee State Conference in Murfreesboro where local leaders received further training on building, community outreach and fundraising techniques, the Cleveland affiliate received “Affiliate of the Year” and “Leader of the Year” awards in recognition of the group’s work in helping Bradley County to reach its “New Normal.”
The “Affiliate of the Year” award was given to the staff, volunteers, support base and partners who have developed the organization into one of the most respected across the state. By no means is Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland the biggest in Tennessee. Many are much larger. But the size of the local affiliate’s impact on the residents of our community is swelling with each new build and expanding with every step toward recovery from those monster tornadoes.
The “Leader of the Year” award is an individual honor which appropriately was presented to Matt Carlson, executive director of the local Habitat affiliate. Over the past 15 months, Carlson has been many things to many people. Shortly after the storms, he suspended Habitat’s ongoing home construction schedule in order to throw full Habitat support to the rebuilding of Cleveland and Bradley County. He pledged his organization’s partnership to others who would join in the massive restoration.
Carlson proved his worth by accepting a co-chairmanship role with the Bradley County Long-Term Recovery Organization, a cross-section of community groups whose common cause was the ongoing recovery from the atrocities that befell our hometown within that terrifying 12-hour onslaught of weather savagery.
Carlson’s reaction to the awards was befitting a man who values people. He told our newspaper, “The Affiliate of the Year award reflects the involvement of so many Habitat people — our board of directors, our staff and our dedicated volunteers. 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.”
In the wake of these outstanding honors, let none forget a third award. TVA and Cleveland Utilities have named the local Habitat affiliate as the 2011 EnergyRight Solutions New Homes Builder of the Year for the Southeast District. Habitat was honored for its commitment to energy-efficiency and its belief in all-electric new homes.
As we said, good things happen to great people. Great things happen to excellent organizations.
Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland offers both.
Habitat is a deserving honoree of these awards. And our families are the unspoken beneficiaries.