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Habitat celebrates milestones

By Jared Felkins jfelkins@lebanondemocrat.com • Dec 17, 2015 at 6:43 PM

Jennifer Clark had a lot to celebrate last Sunday when she officially became a homeowner through Habitat for Humanity.

Clark attended homeownership education classes in preparation for the day she signed her mortgage agreement with Habitat, and she also been worked on the build site alongside sponsors and volunteers.

After a difficult childhood, Clark eventually made her way to Tennessee, but found herself homeless with a small child. She lived out of a car while her mother helped care for her son. 

But Clark wanted to provide a better life for her son. She enrolled at Volunteer State Community College, where she graduated last month with a degree in veterinary technologies. She attended school and worked full time to create a better future for herself and her 16-year-old son, LaVonte.

“I want to be a success story and make everyone proud that they helped my family, and I hope to be in a position one day to do the same for other families that have endured so much,” she said.

Now that she’s officially moved into her new Habitat home, Clark said, “I think I will take a deep breath, pray with my son, thank God, cook a nice meal and have the best sleep of my entire life.”

Clark’s home signifies a milestone in more than one way, however.  Not only do Clark and LaVonte have a home of their own, Habitat for Humanity’s Wilson Division celebrated the completion of its 60th build. This year is the 20th anniversary for Wilson County’s Habitat for Humanity’s first home.

“We’re very proud of our history and are already looking forward to how we can meet the needs of families the next 20 years,” said Habitat for Humanity Wilson Division Director Tory Tredway.

The Clarks’ home is on Alydar Drive in Watertown, and Tredway said this is the fourth Habitat home built there. It is part of a subdivision on Poplar Hill Road. There were close to 160 volunteers who helped complete the house.

Dubbed a faith build, several Wilson County church congregations came together to help build Clark’s home. Churches involved included College Hills Church of Christ, Crossroads Community Church, First United Methodist Church, Maple Hill Church of Christ, Mt. Juliet Church of Christ, Providence United Methodist Church, St. Stephen Catholic Community and

The Bridge Fellowship.

During Sunday’s ceremony, Tredway welcomed those present before Derek Truelove, a Wilson Habitat for Humanity Community Board member, presented Clark with a Bible and an American flag to display outside her new home. Board chair Scott McCormick then presented Clark with her mortgage agreement and keys. 

Wilson Habitat for Humanity also recently came full circle when it comes to celebrations. 

The owner of the county’s first Habitat home, Juanita Johnson, also has something to rejoice.

According to Tredway, Johnson’s mortgage is now completely paid off. An anonymous donor paid the last few months’ payments on the 20-year mortgage.

“She was just speechless,” Tredway said. “She is a woman of faith and gave all the glory to God. She knew it was a gift from the Lord.

“She was very humbled and very touched by such a kind act.”

Tredway said Johnson was invited to the organization’s annual Houses of Hope fundraiser earlier this year to speak on her experience as a homeowner through Habitat.

“She was very sweet and shared how thankful she has been over the years for that home,” said Tredway.

Wilson Habitat for Humanity is an ecumenical Christian ministry that provides the life-changing opportunity for people to buy and own quality, affordable homes. 

Prior to becoming homeowners, Habitat partner families attend home education classes, work at the build site, and volunteer at Habitat’s retail outlet, the ReStore. The work of Habitat in Wilson County began in 1992 and the first house was built in 1994. Wilson Habitat has completed 60 new houses and renovated three, serving 63 families. To request an application or to receive more information about Wilson Habitat for Humanity, call 615-453-4539 or visit habitatnashville.org/divisions/Wilson.

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