Celebrity builders pitch in to build Habitat house

KNOXVILLE (WATE) — Several UT sports stars and busy corporate women grabbed hammers and help build Jennie Clemmons’ Habitat for Humanity house.

Lady Vols head coach Pat Summitt and some of her basketball players came to the site, bringing the precision and dedication that make them winners on the court.

“They have a home of their own and in all cases, it’s a first,” Summitt says. “You know you’re making a difference and all the people here…it’s a big team effort.”

“I just love coming out and doing stuff like this,” says the Lady Vols Sidney Spencer. “The owner of the house is here helping out, too, and it’s great to see how happy she is and how much it means to her. So that’s everything in the world, just helping her.”

“I think it’s important for a student athlete to know our community and to know the needs of our community,” Summitt says. “Sometimes they just see campus and see everything that’s wonderful and they really don’t understand people that really need support in this community.”

“I do think this is a very giving place throughout East Tennessee and for them to be a part of that and feel they’ve made a difference, I think it’s special. I think it has a long term effect in a positive way on a student athlete to come out and work,” Summitt adds.

But it wasn’t just the hoopsters who pitched in. Vicky Fulmer, wife of head coach Phillip Fulmer says she has “a little bit (of experience) on my first house that we built in Maryville. I’ve had plenty of experience hanging pictures and things like that. Now, working on a roof that will be a different story.”

And women connected with the UT Athletics Departments came together at various times during the project. Experience wasn’t required. But a passion for helping others was.

“At first, I was just a mover of stuff and I was like, I want to be busy, so I went on the roof so I could be busy,” says Beth Hamilton, wife of Athletic Director Mike Hamilton.

“I was kind of surprised they put me up on that roof to tell you the truth,” says Kim Peal, wife of head coach Bruce Pearl. “But I’m pleased to say, I did not kill myself.”

Kim Pearl adds that Bruce didn’t know she was on the roof “and he’s gonna die because he was up on a ladder the other day and his knees were glued together because he was so scared. But he would not get up there.”

Corporate women contribute

The steering committee was made up of: UT first lady Carol Petersen, the CEO of KUB Mintha Roach, Dr. Stephanie Hall: deputy director of the Knox County Health Department and WATE’s own President and General Manager Jan Wade, Dee Haslam: president of Rivr Media and Kathleen Finch, general manager of DIY.

Their goal was to get 300 other women to help fund the home, grab a hammer and get to work.

Carol Evans, director of marketing at HGTVpro.com was in charge of the project.

She says recruiting women was easy. “I think part of it is women like the opportunity to come together. Women need women to help a bit more. We’ve been a bit farther behind in our gains and in home ownership, so women tend to like to help women.”

Their game plan was simple, to help make this project a winner.

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