Wet weather doesn’t stop first build day at Habitat for Humanity’s 500th Knoxville home

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Friday was an exciting day for a Knoxville family as they watch their new home take shape. This isn’t just any home, it is Knoxville’s 500th Habitat for Humanity house.

The build started around 7:30 Friday morning after a moment of thanks and praise. The wet weather was brushed aside and everyone on site seemed to focus on the real reason for the day, the Lanxter family.

With the frame almost complete by 2 p.m., Tateanna Lanxter said, “I’m so amazed at how quickly they are getting everything and putting everything together. I didn’t think it would be this quick and without the volunteers it wouldn’t be possible to be this quick.”

Extended Coverage: Building a Better Future

The family has worked for nearly two years with Habitat for Humanity, going through classes and putting in all of the sweat equity to see their dream of home ownership come true.

PHOTOS: Building a Better Future
PHOTOS: Building a Better Future

“It takes a little while to get here but at the end it’s all worth it,” Tateanna Lanxter said with a smile.

It was a quick pace out at the build site and lots of hard work. Almost all of it was done by volunteers. There were only three paid workers at the build. Everyone else is donating their time to this project. Habitat workers say that is key to the program’s success.

“People like to give and this is a great way to give because they see the families and how they deserving they are and how hard they work, ” Phil Watson said. “It gives them the opportunity to give back and that’s a great feeling. I’m always moved by this.”

Covenant partners

The weather wasn’t perfect, but the volunteer spirit was in full effect Friday. None of this would be possible without the Covenant Partners on the build. They are the ones who put up the money behind the project and almost all of the labor.

The partners on this build are Toyota Knoxville, Lexus of Knoxville and Rockytop Air. They all had volunteers out today so we asked them what being a part of this project really means to them.

“Just seeing the family this morning and seeing their smiling faces and all these people coming together for a good cause, it is work, don’t get me wrong, it’s a lot of work but it’s all for a good cause,” said Jason Carson from Toyota Knoxville.

“We wanted to get involved with something to give back to the community. I’ve always been impressed with Habitat for Humanity and when an opportunity came along, it seemed like the right thing to do,” Gerald Allison with Rocky Top Air said.

“It’s quite amazing to see it, almost like poetry in motion out here for people who don’t have any idea what they’re doing. They’re throwing in a labor of love and doing whatever it takes to get these people a new home,” Gary Hughes of Lexus of Knoxville explained the day.

Of course, WATE 6 on Your Side is happy to be a part of this project as well.

35+ years volunteering

Most people out at Habitat for Humanity’s 500th home build have little or no official construction experience. Thankfully, there are quite a few people on hand to help out and to keep the build on schedule.

Two of those men have more than 35 years of combined leadership with Habitat, and many people may not realize they are volunteers too.

Crew leader Joseph Marlowe could be seen Friday calling the shots, climbing the most dangerous routes and keeping construction moving in the right direction. But Marlowe is not on the payroll with Habitat, he’s a repeat volunteer or officially a Habitat Crew Leader.

“I saw this was the 500th house and this is my 50th house and I thought it be a special thing to marry the two together and something for me to remember,” he said.

Marlowe does not have a formal construction background. Instead, he learned most of his skills from his father and good old hands-on experience. He says the big draw is knowing he is helping to make a difference.

“It’s very rewarding for me to help them, to get them help even getting a house they can work towards other things that’s a milestone for every family,” said Marlowe.

It’s the same desire to give back that has inspired another crew leader and Habitat board member. John Lyons has been donating his time since the early 90s and didn’t want to miss out on this landmark day.

“I wanted to be a part of the 500th build, first of all, and I heard we might need some extra volunteers so I came out with my tool belt and hammer.”

Lyons is also part of a special group that comes in behind the scenes to help keep the build on it’s set timeline.

“Tuesday and Thursdays are mostly retirees and some full time staff members they come every Tuesday and Thursday to do prep work and they do whatever needs to be done to keep the house on schedule for when the crowd of volunteers come on Saturday.”

Construction will continue through the the next several weeks and the family hopes to move in by Christmas.

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