Unsurprisingly, the local affiliate earned a series of prestigious awards in the middle of this flurry of activity.
Two came from Habitat for Humanity of Tennessee which recognized the local homebuilder with Impact Awards as “Affiliate of the Year” and “Leader of the Year,” the latter of which was presented to Matt Carlson, executive director. The honors came during the 2012 Habitat for Humanity of Tennessee State Conference in Murfreesboro.
A third award came as 2011 EnergyRight Solutions New Homes Builder of the Year for the Southeast District; this honor was presented by TVA and Cleveland Utilities.
A fourth award was the Tennessee’s Best Excellence in Partnership Award as given by the Tennessee Housing Development Agency during the 2012 Governor’s Housing Summit in Nashville.
Yet, it was another Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland achievement — the construction of the organization’s 100th house over a span of 22 years — that cracked the Top 10 in local news stories for 2012, as voted by staff writers and editors of the Cleveland Daily Banner.
The historic milestone was celebrated in a community Christmas luncheon held Dec. 5 at Black Fox Farms. Later in the day, a legion of Habitat for Humanity volunteers, supporters and donors dedicated House No. 100 to Sylvester and Stella Hetiback and their four children. To double the day’s delight, Habitat also dedicated House No. 98 to the three-member family of Tracy Gann.
Since the historic milestone, Habitat for Humanity has dedicated Houses No. 101 and 102. The key presentations came a week after the dedication for No. 100 in the new Victory Cove subdivision off South Lee Highway. The 100th house is in the Century Village subdivision.
Hetiback, whose family moved to Cleveland seven years ago, is native to Polap, a Western Pacific island of the Micronesian chain. He first brought his wife and children to Florida, and then to Cleveland. The family came to America seeking education, jobs, opportunity and freedom.
“No matter what country we are from, every man wants to provide his own home, to give his family security,” Hetiback told those attending the 100th Home Dedication.
He added, “Our children will have a better chance to prosper in Cleveland, Tennessee, than other places.”
He gave credit where it is most due — to the volunteers, supporters and donors whose work and generosity have aided in Habitat for Humanity’s growth in Cleveland. He also pointed to those who have welcomed his family to their new home.
“Friends and neighbors of Cleveland and Bradley County, thank you so much,” Hetiback stressed.
The day’s keynote address was delivered by Dr. Paul Conn, Lee University president whose school served as primary sponsor for the Hetiback home. In his comments, Conn announced a new program by Lee University that will provide a free class to any member of a new Habitat for Humanity home in Cleveland and Bradley County.
He also pledged the university’s unconditional support for Habitat.
“As long as there is a Lee University and Habitat for Humanity in this community, we will be stepping up to be your partners,” Conn told the huge audience.
He said Lee University supports Habitat for Humanity because of several of the same reasons that other area organizations support the nonprofit homebuilder. Habitat and Lee University have mutual beliefs in the importance of family, in serving others and in the power of community, Conn stressed.
“Families don’t live in houses,” the 26-year president stated. “Families live in homes. They create homes. The connection to Habitat for all of us is our belief in the family.”
Conn also pointed to the values embedded in his hometown.
“This is a town with a huge heart,” he said. “This is a town that loves to give ... and a town in which people are all different stripes, all different types, who come together and work in bringing all their different gifts to do things for others. That doesn’t happen anywhere more than at Habitat for Humanity.”
Carlson summed up the feelings of his organization in speaking of the 100th house milestone, as well as looking into the future.
“As we celebrate an incredible milestone of building 100 homes in the local community, I would like to thank [everyone for their] continued commitment to changing families’ lives,” Carlson stressed. “Every swing of the hammer, every hour spent volunteering and every dollar donated helps another family have a safe place to live.”
He added, “Because [of our volunteers, donors and supporters], families can gather around the dinner table and give thanks. Children can come home to a decent, warm bedroom in which to sleep, to play and to dream about their very bright future. Most of all, [this] support strengthens neighborhoods and a community in which we are all a part.”
Habitat for Humanity “... brings hope to those who didn’t have it before,” Carlson said. He said Habitat volunteers and supporters help to “... make dreams come true.”
Although the 100th dedication was intended as a community “thank you,” it also recognized the longtime work of a core group of construction volunteers. These include Alan Goslen, Larry Rau, Chuck Haney, Charles Bolick, David Flower, Deborah Flower, Tommy Pirkle, Don Kinnerson, Eddie Graves, Don Rollens, Terry McCoy and Danny Britt. Added recognition was given to Haney, Bolick and Rollens whose hands and talents have touched most of the 100 houses built by the local Habitat affiliate.
The full slate of sponsors of the 100th home included: Lee University, Lead Sponsor; Habitat ReStore, Bradley Sunrise Rotary, Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati and Whirlpool Corporation who were Foundation Sponsors; Bank of Cleveland, KACE Developments, Knights of Columbus/Queen of Heaven, Resolute Forest Products, TVA and Fitzgerald Family Foundation who were members of the Community Builders Society; and 57 individual donors.