Building a better tomorrow: Women of downtown Johnson City help construct habitat home for single mother


JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Building a better tomorrow was the goal of Holston Habitat for Humanity’s “Women Build”, which featured women leaders of downtown Johnson City lending their hands on the construction site to develop a home for a single mother.

This is the 308th build for the organization, with this home located near Founders Park in Downtown Johnson City going to a woman named Sarah.

“Sarah is an amazing woman. She is a single mother, she is a Johnson City native, she is a really hard worker and she is so full of faith and I’m just so excited that she’s going to be living this close to downtown where we clearly have an amazing community and proximity to her son, who is a student at ETSU, I think she’s going to be really happy here,” said the Executive Director of Holston Habitat for Humanity Laura Kelly.

The project has been in the works for over a year and was delayed due to COVID, but according to Kelly, the ground was officially broken a few weeks ago in an official groundbreaking ceremony with construction underway within the past week.

With less than a week’s worth of work completed so far, things are moving along smoothly through the help of the women who make up downtown Johnson City, either through their work or other ties.

Those volunteering said it’s an experience like no other.

“It’s just really neat to have a dozen or 14 downtown business owners and people who are connected with downtown and the city to be here and just work alongside each other,” said Johnson City Development Authority Executive Director Dianna Cantler.

News Channel 11, a sponsor of the build, came out on Thursday to the kick-off of the build and had staff volunteering alongside General Manager Paula Jackson who said this is the perfect time to give back.

“Last year, we had COVID. This year we can get out and do things and the need is big, and it could not happen without the volunteers that we have working on this build, and the donations that have been given to help this build and to see it through,” said Jackson.

Jackson, Cantler, and former Johnson City Mayor Jenny Brock were just a few of the women hammering away and building Sarah’s forever home.

“They’re out there swinging hammers and they’re gaining new skills and really what it means is that they’re here in support of Sara’s dream, supporting another woman who is getting a hand-up from this organization,” Kelly said.

Kelly said work will continue around four days a week through the summer. She anticipates completion to be somewhere between mid to late July. She said with their drive and the 70–30 ratio of help consisting of volunteers and construction professionals, she has no doubt they’ll reach that goal.

For Kelly, to see the help of the community in this build, specifically the women, she said it’s empowering.

“It means that we’re strengthening the community as a whole. When we get to build relationships with our neighbors, that’s ultimately what makes a strong community,” she said.

Volunteers are always needed for builds like this. If you interested in volunteering, click here.

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