TTU teams with Habitat for Humanity for campus build

Kim Gist and her three children will soon have a new home to call their own this fall thanks to a partnership between Tennessee Tech University and Putnam County Habitat for Humanity.

The Gist family, along with university faculty, staff and students recently broke ground on the new home on Oct. 2.

“A lot of my friends are in Habitat houses, and we have been very overcrowded in apartments and now at my mother's house,” said Gist, who has been a resident of Cookeville for 25 years and is employed as general manager of Taco Bell in Algood.

“The kids are all sharing a room. They are excited to finally be getting their own rooms and space. 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!”

Gist’s children include a daughter Tyona, who is 11, and two sons, Terrell, 9, and J.J. (Javaun), 4.

Tyona attends 6th grade at Algood School, where she is on the basketball team and the newspaper staff. She also enjoys acting in plays, writing stories and playing softball.

Terrell attends 4th grade at Algood School and is active in football, basketball and Boy Scouts.

J.J. attends pre-kindergarten at Northeast Elementary and enjoys playing both t-ball and basketball.

Pam Ealey, executive director for PCHFH, said, “During our 13-year history we’ve been able to engage many volunteers from the university, but this build takes our partnership to the next level. We're looking forward to the students, faculty and staff enjoying the ‘on-campus’ experience and seeing how their own lives will be impacted by being a part of the project and changing this family's life!”

Beginning Oct. 15, members of the TTU family will begin building Gist’s new home, which will be the 52nd Habitat home in Putnam County. The home will be constructed near the university campus on 12th Street across from the Fitness Center, and later moved to its final destination on McClellan Court in November.

An aggressive build schedule has most of the work for the home expected for completion by Homecoming weekend on Nov. 7-8.

A dedication ceremony for the home at its final location is scheduled for Nov. 22.

TTU’s Service Center, managed by Theresa Ennis, will coordinate campus volunteers and oversee the project for the university. She noted that students will benefit from their participation in the build in many ways, including: broadening perspectives of diversity issues; enhancing critical thinking skills; improving interpersonal skills that are important in achieving professional and personal success; and developing a civic responsibility through active community involvement.

“TTU has been presented with the opportunity to show what a caring campus we are with our involvement in the Habitat for Humanity/TTU House build,” said Ennis. “Students are excited to participate in this service project sponsored by the University Service Center.

“The impact of TTU’s involvement also adds to the life-changing opportunity for the family that will eventually purchase and live in the house,” she added.

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, visit or contact PCHFH at (931) 528-1711.