TTU, Habitat for Humanity dedicate new home for Gist family

After an aggressive build schedule and many hours of hard work by Tennessee Tech University student, faculty and staff volunteers, Kim Gist and her three children now have a new home to call their own this holiday season.

The university recently partnered with Putnam County Habitat for Humanity on the build project that will culminate with a dedication ceremony at 4 p.m. Friday, Dec. 5, at 119 McClellan Court, the home's location.

"To see the dozens of students, faculty, and staff come out every day to help build this home has been one of the highlights of our ministry's history," said Pam Ealey, PCHFH executive director. "I hope this partnership with Tennessee Tech has been as rewarding for those volunteers as it has been for our organization. We also hope this is just the beginning of a stronger partnership with the university."

According to TTU's Service Center, which coordinated campus volunteers and oversaw the project for the university, approximately 425 student, faculty and staff volunteers worked on the house.

"We would like to thank Kappa Sigma, Fiji, Alpha Delta Pi, SGA, Tri Beta, XI, Baja Team, Tau Beta Pi, Residential Life and athletics teams for their dedication and participation in the project, as well as thank all the individual student volunteers who came out to build the house," said Service Center Coordinator Theresa Ennis. "The house was built in 20 days in approximately 150 hours by various groups working together."

Ground was broken on the new home on Oct. 2, and on Oct. 15, members of the TTU family began building Gist's new home. The home, which is the 52nd Habitat home in Putnam County, was constructed near campus on 12th Street across from the Fitness Center and was later moved to its final destination on McClellan Court in November.

University volunteers performed most of the activities related to building the home, including raising walls; setting trusses; framing; sheathing and shingling the roof; hanging windows and doors; attaching siding and insulation; painting; installing cabinets and carpeting; performing some electrical and plumbing work; landscaping; and building a shed and deck

Gist, who has been a resident of Cookeville for 25 years and is employed as general manager of Taco Bell in Algood, previously lived in apartments and at her mother's house along with her three children. Gist's children include a daughter, Tyona, 11, and two sons, Terrell, 9, and J.J. (Javaun), 4.

"This Habitat home means stability and a more organized life for us," she said. "I'd like to say thanks to all the volunteers and sponsors for our house in helping us get into a home of our own!"

Ealey added, "The demand from the students was so high that we filled schedules up quickly and some students came up with alternative ways to help, such as collecting children's books for all of our families. We could've easily built three homes with the volunteer support from the entire campus family.

"Our community should be in awe of this great university and what it truly means to us here in Putnam County," continued Ealey. "To see the hundreds of students that helped on this build and have helped us over the years plus those members of the Tennessee Tech student body that help our schools and other nonprofit organizations in Putnam County is heartwarming. Most of the students will be moving on to another town after graduation - but they do their best to leave their marks here in Putnam County and for that I know I'm grateful."

According to Ennis, TTU has discussed building a Habitat house on campus every two years.

"Our next build would tentatively be in the fall semester of 2010," said Ennis. "We are partnered with the PCHFH office to provide volunteers for all future Putnam County Habitat builds."

The Putnam County Habitat for Humanity works with area organizations, businesses, churches and individuals to combine their support and efforts to build safe, decent affordable homes for much less than the average market price. The home is then sold to the families with no profit added and financed with zero interest mortgages. Mortgage payments are made to Habitat and are then put into a fund that's used to build other homes.

For more information about this project or for complete directions to the dedication, visit www.tntech.edu/volunteer/projects or contact PCHFH at (931) 528-1711.

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