A shovel of dirt, and a dream in the making

Posted Saturday, April 6, 2019 9:00 pm

Whether it’s the first shovel of dirt during a groundbreaking, the inaugural nail driven during an opening day of construction or the snip of a brightly colored ribbon at the close of a dedication, there’s always something extraordinary about a Habitat for Humanity observance.


Conditions don’t matter: rain, sun, hot, cold or the nip of a frosty October morn, it’s a sight to behold for all … from volunteers to organizational staff to program advocates – and especially to recipient families who give “sweat equity” and a personal commitment to homeownership. Truly, it’s an emotional turn in the lives of all whose hands have touched this heartfelt moment.

For program staff, it is the continuation of a personal mission, one that whispers “… I am my brother’s keeper,” and for this reason they choose to work for a nonprofit whose efforts sometimes go unnoticed but whose impact is forever seen.

For donors, it is the knowledge that dollars contributed don’t disappear into the unknown with never another word to be heard; on the contrary, these gifts swell hearts by building hope.

For volunteers, it is the chance to make a difference in the lives of others … strangers on day one, best friends at project’s close; theirs is the sweat, the drive and the fatigue of working in the sun, theirs is the compassion of mentoring others whose lives are not so different from their own, theirs is a need to do good, to be good and to feel good in the doing.

For recipient families, it is the hand up for which many pray; it is not the handout that lends to a thirst for more, but an opportunity that should be afforded to any man or any woman or any family, with child or without, of any color and all cultures who are willing to work to help themselves while accepting the responsibilities of their decision.

This is the world of Habitat for Humanity. These are the people who give it voice. Theirs are the knowing smiles, the perspiring brows and the tired sighs that give it face.

As most know, Habitat for Humanity is an international initiative, one that erects houses and builds cities in all pockets of the globe. It is also a national front, one given life by community affiliates from Bangor, Maine, to Brownsville, Texas, from Spokane, Wash., to Miami, Fla. Its outreach is immense. Its vision spans coast to coast.

Closer to home, we have a league of miracle workers in our midst. Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland has been bringing the American Dream to local families since 1990 … nail by nail, board by board, shingle to shingle, time-scarred paint brush to drip-stained bucket, shovel to landscaped earth, and heart to heart.

By the close of 2019, Habitat for Humanity volunteers spanning 29 years will have built 136 homes in the Cleveland and Bradley County community.

Habitat volunteers recently broke ground on three new houses in the Victory Grove subdivision. Groundbreaking will be held later for a fourth in the South Gate Hills subdivision.

One of the strengths in the fabric of Victory Grove and South Gate Hills is their commonality. Both are exclusive Habitat for Humanity neighborhoods.

They are not alone. Habitat also boasts its own communities in Fitzgerald Village, Sain Village and Century Village.

There is wisdom in building Habitat homes on the same soil. Their families get to share a sense of pride, one that breathes success, embraces a celebration of life and resonates a pledge … to themselves, to each other, to their hometown.

Collectively, the four homes being built this year include:

• Women Build, whose title sponsor is Easy Auto, will feature the work of 200 women, divided into teams of 10;

• Legacy Build, sponsored by the George R. Johnson Foundation;

• Leaders Build, comprised of a large collection of local celebrities and community leaders; and

• Heroes Build, which engages the work and sponsorships of veterans, active-duty military and emergency responders.

The homeowners are everyday people who love, laugh and cry: Dale, Nataziona, Erica, Tatyana, Victor, Ethan and Brenda. Thanks to Habitat for Humanity, they are building strength, stability and self-reliance through shelter, and they’re doing it right here in our hometown community.

Want to get involved? We knew you would. Call 423-473-4610. 

Habitat for Humanity is located at 300 Grove Ave. Cleveland natives might recognize the site as the former Cinema Twin theater. Even after all these years, the old building still stirs the imagination and cultivates dreams for all.

But not just any dreams … American Dreams.