Posted Saturday, July 20, 2019 9:29 pm
By DANIEL GUY
Wacker Polysilicon Battalion 3 firefighters are used to putting their lives on the line. On Friday, they became a different type of hero as they worked on Habitat for Humanity home No. 139.
Future homeowner Brenda Walker moved a step closer to her dream of being a first-time homeowner.
“I’m very blessed and thankful that I get the opportunity to do this for me and my family, to have a place to come and have a home,” Walker said. “Because I am the first person in my family to own a new home it is a big deal for me. It really touches my heart that God gave me this opportunity, and coming from a family with veterans I feel so honored to have first responders helping build today.”
Habitat representatives said Walker is “an incredible woman with a positive spirit that brings joy to those around her. She's a mother, a medical office assistant at Tennova Primary Care in Ooltewah and a hard worker.”
A resident of East Tennessee since age 5, Walker’s family living in the area includes two adult children — Brandon and Megan — and granddaughter Evelyn Brook. She has been living in a duplex, which was a convert from an older home. She said the foundation is sinking, floors are not level, water leaks in the home and there is a huge sinkhole in the neighbor’s yard. Her old house has cracks around the doors and high electric bills. She pays 47% of her monthly income toward shelter.
Friend Delia Meroney, who has had a Habitat home for six years, encouraged Walker to apply. After being accepted into the program, Walker is working to complete her sweat equity requirement. Walker is eagerly anticipating weeks with her children and granddaughter.
Lisa Mantooth, communications and executive coordinator, said the Heroes Build was the “perfect opportunity” for Wacker’s fire department to give back to the community.
Three Wacker employees, who are all United States military veterans, presented a check from Wacker Polysilicon to Habitat for Humanity’s Cleveland Executive Director Tammy Johnson at the build on Friday. “We’re thrilled to kick off this year’s Heroes Build,” said Johnson. “Our local heroes serve as military members, first responders and veterans, and to us, our heroes are also Habitat’s future homeowners, like Brenda Walker, who has worked so hard to help make this day happen.”
Wacker has participated in three Women’s Builds for Habitat so far since coming to Bradley County.
Ten firefighters from Battalion 3 from Wacker’s fire department participated in the Heroes Build Friday, the first half of the day, with an additional 10 coming to work the latter part of the day. There was also a group of Wacker employees planting flowers at two other homeowners' homes on Friday.
Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland Executive Director Tammy Johnson is passionate about the organization offering a “hand up, not a handout” to the home applicants, by partnering with the selected future homeowners to “help them change their lives.”
Habitat homeowners aren’t “given” these homes. They pay a zero percent interest rate mortgage, in addition to the 400 hours of sweat equity, for their homes. In the nearly 30 years. Habitat has been in Bradley County and the 139 homes that they have helped build, there have only been two homes foreclosed.
Walker said it taught her to appreciate ownership and hard work.
Johnson said, “We really work with our families — if they come across health challenges or lose their job — we come alongside them so that they don’t get far behind and end up having to foreclose on the home.”
Other build teams and sponsors for the Heroes Build include: Lee University’s Delta Zeta Tau (DZT), Tennova, Russell Cellular Verizon and Whirlpool
For more information on how to get involved with the Heroes Build, contact Meta McGuire at 615.598.8824 or firstname.lastname@example.org