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There's no place like home
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Habitat for Humanity 2017 home recipients include, from left, Hershey the dog, Samuel Banks, 11, Miley the dog, Stephanie Banks, and Stephen Banks, 13. Habitat homes are not free as the owners must make monthly mortgage payments.

A recipient of a Habitat for Humanity home in 2017, Stephanie Banks, 36-year-old single mother of two boys, says the home has changed her life. 

Banks followed many steps in order to receive the Habitat house. The process, which took over four months, included filling out paperwork including a credit check, having a current home inspection, writing a letter of why she believed she deserved the home, gaining Habitat for Humanity board approval, and then taking classes to better understand what to do when owning a home after she was approved.

Stephanie was hesitant to apply because she believed there were people who needed it more than she did, and she didn’t want to ask for a handout. 

After praying about the decision to apply, she says she put it in God’s hands. Banks has been working as a teacher’s assistant for five years but could barely make the rent. 

On top of rent, she had to pay for utilities and groceries with her salary.

Once chosen as Habitat recipients in March 2017, Stephanie and her sons worked with volunteers on building their new home and completed the 400 hours of “sweat equity” that is required. She received the keys to her house in June. Habitat for Humanity makes sure mortgage payments are affordable and provides many forms of assistance after the completion of the home.  

Said Stephanie, “It is a wonderful organization. You wouldn’t believe how many people came out and volunteered to help us build our house. The gift of what they do is amazing.”

Being given this opportunity made life for her family much easier and lessened Stephanie’s financial struggles. Her children love the neighborhood they live in now, and the residential community has been very welcoming. The experience was humbling and gratifying for the family.

“I never thought I would own my house. This has been a dream come true,” says Banks.

Warren County’s Habitat for Humanity is ready to launch its 32nd home build for a resident in need beginning March 16. Their message is that this is not a handout but a hand-up since it improves the recipients’ overall lives. 

Warren County Habitat for Humanity has received a donation of $3,427 from the medical staff and physicians of St. Thomas River Park Hospital. 

A $3,200 grant for the 2019 home build was awarded by The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. This is the first grant Habitat has been given in over five years. These donations and grants are imperative in the building of these homes.

Terry Lee King Jr., administrator for Habitat for Humanity, says, “We receive several donations throughout the year from individuals and businesses, some monetarily and some that are kindly donated items. All donations are very much appreciated, and we would not be able to achieve our mission without this.”

The houses are built with contributed materials, money and volunteer labor. Completed houses are sold and financed for over 20 to 30 years without interest. 

This nonprofit organization strives to better the lives of residents in Warren County by giving them a much-needed new home and the opportunities that come with it.