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Holston Habitat for Humanity's first-ever interfaith build nearly complete

Zach Vance • May 4, 2018 at 11:25 PM

Since launching in 1985, Holston Habitat for Humanity volunteers have built or repaired 281 homes in and around the Tri-Cities area.

But project No. 282, on Johnson City’s Hamilton Street, is special.

It’s the first time Holston Habitat for Humanity has organized an interfaith build, with members from eight faith-based organizations volunteering together to get the home completed.

“With Christian and Muslim volunteers, this project brings different faith traditions together to accomplish a shared and faithful purpose,” Trish Patterson, community outreach coordinator for Holston Habitat, told the Johnson City Press in February just before the project got underway.

“In addition, three groups will volunteer for the first time with Holston Habitat. And when finished, this Faith Build home will be sold to Ryan and Olivia, who will purchase the home for their family using a 0 percent interest Habitat mortgage.”

Since breaking ground on March 17, Christian and Muslim volunteers alike have dedicated hundreds of hours to erecting the soon-to-be home of Ryan and Olivia Harrison and their three children.

The faith-based organizations volunteering are Antioch Baptist Church, Calvary Church, Covenant Presbyterian Church, Grace Fellowship Church, Munsey United Methodist Church, Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church, University Parkway Baptist Church and the Muslim Community of Northeast Tennessee.

Site Supervisor Art Weekes said Muslim volunteers from as far away as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Nigeria have spent time working on the Harrisons’ home.

“They were all just great people,” Weekes said about all his volunteers.

Although complete strangers to the Harrisons, most of the volunteers signed their name along with a welcoming message on wooden studs that will eventually be concealed.

One message quoted a verse from the Bible, Proverbs 24:3, which says “By wisdom, a house is built and by understanding it is established.:

Another message, above the window in the kitchen, says “may love always be the secret ingredient in this kitchen” and below the message was the signature “Muna from Pakistan.”

Roughly a half-dozen volunteers continued their work Friday, finishing the exterior siding and installing the home’s air conditioning.

“I just think it’s an awesome experience to do. I love it. We’ve been out here since last Friday and we’ll be here until tomorrow,” Michael Humphreys, a volunteer with University Parkway Baptist Church, said.

“I love this kind of work. I love giving back and helping people. (The Harrisons) are very good people. I think they’re going to love this house once we get it done.”

Covering nearly 1,500 square feet, once finished, the single-story home will have four bedrooms — one for each of the Harrisons’ children — and one and 3/4 bath.

Weekes estimates the home will be finished around June 15.

In a video posted on the website GiveEffect.com, Olivia Harrison says the whole Habitat for Humanity experience has been a blessing for her family.

“We’re just very grateful for it,” she said.

To donate or volunteer for the project, visit https://www.giveffect.com/campaigns/5621-ryan-olivia-s-build.

For more information about volunteering with Holston Habitat for Humanity, or about Holston Habitat’s home repair and homeownership programs, visit www.holstonhabitat.org or call 423-239-7689.

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