The dedication and blessing ceremony for the recently completed Habitat House at 1405 East Holston Aveneue in Johnson City took place Sunday afternoon. (Dave Boyd/Johnson City Press)
Planning for the project began in March and the foundation laid April 24, but as of Sunday, Simone Andrist and her two children, 14-year-old Austin and 13-year-old Amber, received the keys to their new East Holston Avenue home.
Andrist said she has gained not only a new home but is honored to call all the people she has met through the experience her new friends.
“I feel like I’ve made new friends and I feel really good about that,” Andrist said. “I feel very special and loved.”
Andrist was surrounded by Habitat for Humanity volunteers and St. Mary’s Catholic Church members in her new living room, where Manuel Perez, an associate pastor, blessed the home through prayer and song.
The new home gives Andrist and her children a sense of pride.
“It makes you appreciate your home more when you’re able to put your own time in on it,” Andrist said. “It took a lot of work. It took about a year and a half.
“I think it will make it easier with the kids and they will be able to say this is something that is theirs. It means more stability for them.”
Since the program began in the ’80s, Andrist’s family is the 235th family helped by Holston Habitat for Humanity, which hosted the home dedication.
When it comes to getting a job done, Andrist said she loves the community involvement and embraces the opportunities to help others with their homes.
“I’ve done a little bit of everything,” Andrist said. “I helped out with three other people’s homes before I got to help out with my own. I loved it, is was great.”
The new East Holston home is the third in a row of Habitat for Humanity homes on the block and fourth home total to be dedicated this year.
“This is a great neighborhood,” Andrist said.
In addition to being handed the keys, Andrist and her children received quilts made by members of St. Mary’s and a Catholic Bible blessed on site by Perez.
Al Bentz, Habitat site supervisor, said Andrist may notice a few subtle imperfections around the home, but offered a different perspective.
“I believe that the spirit that has been built into this house will nourish your family as long as you are here,” Bentz said. “If you look around, you will see a little dab of paint here that should have been there and maybe a board that’s not quite straight. Those are not defects. They are not imperfections. They are fingerprints of the people who care and built their spirit into this house.”
The home was built with a passion for helping others, Bentz said.
“Normally my final function is to step up here and congratulate all the volunteers on what a good job you did,” Bentz said. “But this one has been special because of the relationship that we formed with the congregation of St. Mary’s and the way the people of St. Mary’s have drawn in other members of the community to help with the job. Rather than using my own words, I’m going to borrow from the words of the carpenter who inspired us all, ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servants.’ ”
Deb Yobst, volunteer coordinator, said she was honored to meet and work with so many people in support of Andrist.
“It was the sum total of the efforts made by each and every person involved that made this a success,” Yobst said. “Simone, we are so happy for you and your family and we wish you many happy, healthy years in your new home.”
Andrist took time to make sure she thanked everyone who helped during her speech at the dedication.
“I feel like I have one of the best-built homes in Johnson City,” Andrst said. “I wouldn’t have asked anyone else to build my home. I think it’s been a great and wonderful experience. I’m really glad I did it.”