Habitat for Humanity of Tennessee is proud to announce the 2014 State Impact Award winners. These individuals and groups have significantly impacted the lives of local residents and communities and are making tremendous strides in supporting Habitat for Humanity’s quest to end poverty housing. Awards were issued July 23rd in twelve categories at the awards dinner held at the DoubleTree Hotel during Habitat Tennessee’s Annual State Affiliate Conference in Murfreesboro.

You will be amazed by what these winners have accomplished!!!!

To view pictures from our awards dinner, click here.


Meet the State Impact Awards Selection Committee

Habitat for Humanity of Tennessee selection committee members include Ted Fellman, Senior Vice President for Raymond James; Trish Holiday, Assistant Commissioner and Chief Learning Officer for the Department of Human Resources; Jo Matherne, first female Mayor of Brownsville; Steve Ruckart, founder of RAI Advisors; and Jim Tracy, Chairman of the Senate Transportation and Safety Committee in the Tennessee State Senate.


Affiliate of the Year: Habitat for Humanity McNairy County

Steve Ruckart, Habitat for Humanity of Tennessee’s Board President, presented Judi Mashburn, Secretary and Treasurer of Habitat for Humanity McNairy County, along with her five fellow board members: Ted Moore, Donny and Diana Gibbs and Eddie Dickey, with the Affiliate of the Year award. Managing a Habitat affiliate in a very rural area can be quite challenging, unless you are this year’s award winner. Habitat for Humanity McNairy County, located in Selmer, is solely supported by their volunteer board.

They have no paid staff. There are a dozen board members who wear the “hats” of this affiliate. Even with their limited resources, this energetic, committed group is able to complete a new home about every fifteen months. Their construction crew consists of six very knowledgeable, devoted individuals. Habitat for Humanity McNairy County’s board members are all active on-site, fundraising and friend-raising…always working to constantly garner new resources to enable another family to realize the American Dream of owning their own home and having a stable life. This group has built many relationships in the community and they are very successful in energizing others to join them. They also find time to work with their county high school students to help them qualify their “Senior Projects” which are required for graduation.


Favorite ReStore: Habitat for Humanity of Greater Memphis

Steve Ruckart, Habitat for Humanity of Tennessee’s Board President, presented Dwayne Spencer, Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Memphis, with the Favorite ReStore award. This award winning ReStore has become popular with volunteers and established itself as a shopping destination and a successful fundraiser for Habitat’s mission. Small but mighty in terms of staff, a steady stream of volunteers continue to support the staff. Volunteer groups have included church and faith-based groups; alternative fall and spring break and other service teams from universities and high schools; and corporate groups looking for team-building activities that allow them to give back. In addition, this ReStore has fostered other unique partnerships.

One such partnership is with a regional nonprofit that provides on-the-job training for low-income seniors. Another, is giving opportunities for employees on leave receiving workman’s comp. While these employees cannot perform their usual jobs, their employers want to keep them working, and they offer them as volunteers to the ReStore during that time.

Since before its opening, this ReStore has put much focus on strategic marketing and outreach initiatives. To date, it has also saved more than 3.3 million pounds of items from entering the local waste stream. This ReStore has a record of success and continues to raise its profile in the community and raise more funds for Habitat.


Legislator of the Year: Senator Jim Tracy

Steve Ruckart, Habitat for Humanity of Tennessee’s Board President, presented State Senator Jim Tracy with the Legislator of the Year award. Senator Tracy has supported Habitat for Humanity for many years and in fact, he is typically the first person to arrive at the build site or dedication or whatever event he has committed to attend.

He has proven over and over again by his actions that he believes in the methodology of our ministry as he has witnessed firsthand the benefits home ownership has on families in need. When issues arise that may impede Habitat for Humanity’s mission, Senator Tracy is the first one to step up and put his name on a bill to make sure we are able to continue to serve our communities. His belief in providing a hand up and not a hand out has led him to be an unwavering supporter and champion of Habitat for Humanity.


Outstanding Community Leader of the Year: Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati

Senator Jim Tracy, Habitat for Humanity of Tennessee board member, presented Damon V. Allen, Senior Vice President of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati with the Outstanding Community Leader of the Year award. The FHLBank Cincinnati has and continues to substantially impact Habitat for Humanity’s ability to continue to work towards its mission of eliminating poverty housing. They also make it their mission to support housing.

The FHLBank of Cincinnati has awarded over $17 million in Affordable Housing Program grants helping fund over 1,500 homes here in Tennessee. They are a $95 billion, AAA rated regional wholesale bank providing housing finance and economic development products and services to 734 member institution stockholders located in the Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee. FHLBank of Cincinnati is wholly owned by their member institution stockholders and do not use taxpayer dollars. Through the Affordable Housing Program, the FHLBank of Cincinnati invests 10 percent of annual earnings in low-income housing initiatives.

FHLBank of Cincinnati’s leadership team holds an annual “employee build” and in 2012, they spent several days with Habitat in Nashville laying sod, planting flowers, bushes, trees…..getting their hands dirty. The leadership truly displays a servant heart. Last October, as we celebrated our 35th anniversary in Tennessee, the FHLBank of Cincinnati was not only a financial sponsor but also attended with leadership staff, board directors and advisory council members. This award winner is a substantial partner for Habitat for Humanity.


Excellence in Housing Advocacy: Craig Stevens, Tennessee Housing Development Agency

Senator Jim Tracy, Habitat for Humanity of Tennessee board member, presented Craig Stevens with the Excellence in Housing Advocacy award. Craig works with the Tennessee Housing Development Agency. Over the years, he has managed many housing projects through their grant programs. Craig truly understands the methodology of Habitat for Humanity and the many components and layers involved in making our organization work.

A true advocate for housing, he nominated Habitat’s partnership with THDA. His nomination was for the category “Homeownership – Encouraging New Production” and he titled it “Leading from Strength: THDA builds Habitats; Habitats build housing”. Craig highlighted how THDA’s New Start program provides an immediate replacement of cash in lieu of owners’ monthly mortgage payments thus enabling many Habitat affiliates across the state to build their capacity. He also highlighted our Housing Trust Fund partnership where Habitat for Humanity of Tennessee applies and manages this grant program for affiliates across the state thus allowing THDA to work with one organization instead of 50. While his nomination did not win the award, it was chosen as a finalist and Craig was invited to present our partnership at the National State Housing Agencies Conference held in New Orleans. He was further validated when one of his counterparts at other state financing agency phoned to ask about what they were doing with Habitat for Humanity because his local Habitat chapters kept asking ‘Why can’t you be more like Tennessee?” This award winner does a tremendous job managing our partnership and advocating for what he believes in.


Outstanding Leader of the Year: Shauna Oden

Ted Fellman, Habitat for Humanity of Tennessee board member, presented Shauna Oden, Executive Director of Loudon County Habitat for Humanity with the Outstanding Leader of the Year award. Shauna has led her affiliate with passion and tenacity for 14 years. Last year, her rural affiliate built a record breaking 11 new houses and completed 6 critical repair projects and their ReStore had record sales.

Shauna’s work ethic, vision, faith and leadership style is evident through her actions. She will dive head first and those around her know they can completely count on her. Shauna is quietly generous, humble and non-judgmental and because of these qualities she is able to see beyond others limitations. As one of the founding members of Habitat for Humanity of Tennessee, she served on the board for 8 years and has chaired the state conference committee for the past two years. She is very involved in all aspects of advocacy activities from the state level serving on THDA homebuilder’s advisory board, to actively assisting other Habitat affiliates. She is unwavering in her attempt to help other affiliates succeed.

Shauna leads by example, her staff benefits from her grace, passion and commitment she demonstrates daily. She is blessed with quick wit and eagerness to bring fun into the balance of the Habitat work life. She recognizes staff achievement and enjoys celebrating them.


Outstanding Construction Volunteer of the Year: Jim Hardy

Jo Matherne, Habitat for Humanity of Tennessee board member, presented Jim Hardy of Habitat for Humanity of Anderson County with the Outstanding Construction Volunteer of the Year award. Jim is described by others as “a great man”, “my hero” a man worth emulating”. A volunteer with Habitat for over 8 years, he has accumulated over 2000 volunteer work hours. After his retirement in April 2008, he became one of the “weekday crew”, a group of retired men that work several days a week during a build and come in at least one day a week to work in the office and ReStore when there is no on-site work. Jim served on the board for several years, all the while working Saturdays as a construction volunteer. In fact, he has worked on every single house build with his affiliate since 2006. Jim has an innate ability to build trust, confidence, and teamwork. He is not afraid of getting dirty.

Last July, during a very dark period in the life of his affiliate, Jim received a call from the then Executive Director saying they had reached a point where they could not make payroll. The next day his wife came to the office with a very generous donation to cover their needs. When his fellow “weekday crew” partner, began battling cancer, Jim requested a house be built in his honor in which he took responsibility for planning and fundraising efforts, made another generous donation and within two weeks had raised over $50,000 for the build.


Outstanding ReStore Volunteer of the Year: Marcia Kowalski

Jo Matherne, Habitat for Humanity of Tennessee board member, presented Marcia Kowalski of Loudon County Habitat for Humanity with the Outstanding ReStore Volunteer of the Year award. Marcia is described as the ultimate volunteer. For the last several years, she has worked every Thursday at the ReStore. As cashier, she is a familiar, friendly face to ReStore regulars and a welcome sight for staff and other volunteers.

But this is only half the story. While Marcia spends the first half of her day at her cashier post, she fills a completely different, but just as important role in the afternoon. She loves to clean, so when afternoon comes, she grabs her bucket and cleaning supplies and becomes a one-person cleaning machine. For several hours, no speck of dust, smear or smudge is safe from her sponge, her broom, or her mop. The extra effort Marcia puts into making the store as clean as it can be also makes it a much nicer place to shop and work.

Marcia is a cancer survivor that passes her positive spirit on to everyone she meets. In addition to sharing her time with the Habitat ReStore, she works closely with the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life program; she works with women currently in cancer treatment to uplift their spirits; and she buys all the dolls donated to the ReStore and restores them for Toys for Tots.


Most Creative Marketing by a ReStore: Habitat for Humanity of Sumner County

Trish Holliday, Habitat for Humanity of Tennessee board member, presented Bill Williams, ReStore General Manager of Habitat for Humanity of Sumner County with the Most Creative Marketing by a ReStore award. Bill met the manager of the Gallatin Public Library and learned they have a passion for Doctor Who. A few weeks later the idea came to him that they could build a Doctor Who time capsule and fill it with cans for a food drive. The time capsule was constructed and spent its first month at the Gallatin Public Library collecting over 900 non-perishable food items for the Food Bank. Since that time, it has been rented for several weddings and transported to the Portland Public library for a two month visit. With each “loan”, information about the ReStore must be distributed to the public and most visits have resulted in free press for the ReStore.

Another creative project has been a partnership with the Marketplace at Amberleaf in Gallatin. The Marketplace is a two-story building on the Square that houses booths for artists and artisans to show and sell their wares. In February, artists were allowed to shop at the ReStore for items to produce a piece of art and given three weeks for the production. The art was then displayed at the ReStore followed by a judging and silent auction of the items at the Marketplace. The event was entitled Drab-2-Fab and allowed Habitat to gain good community exposure. Next year’s event has already been scheduled.


Most Creative Marketing by a ReStore: Habitat for Humanity of Sumner County

Trish Holliday, Habitat for Humanity of Tennessee board member, presented Bill Williams, ReStore General Manager of Habitat for Humanity of Sumner County with the Most Creative Marketing by a ReStore award. Bill met the manager of the Gallatin Public Library and learned they have a passion for Doctor Who. A few weeks later the idea came to him that they could build a Doctor Who time capsule and fill it with cans for a food drive. The time capsule was constructed and spent its first month at the Gallatin Public Library collecting over 900 non-perishable food items for the Food Bank. Since that time, it has been rented for several weddings and transported to the Portland Public library for a two month visit. With each “loan”, information about the ReStore must be distributed to the public and most visits have resulted in free press for the ReStore.

Another creative project has been a partnership with the Marketplace at Amberleaf in Gallatin. The Marketplace is a two-story building on the Square that houses booths for artists and artisans to show and sell their wares. In February, artists were allowed to shop at the ReStore for items to produce a piece of art and given three weeks for the production. The art was then displayed at the ReStore followed by a judging and silent auction of the items at the Marketplace. The event was entitled Drab-2-Fab and allowed Habitat to gain good community exposure. Next year’s event has already been scheduled.


Best Habitat Neighborhood Project: Blount County Habitat for Humanity

Trish Holliday,Habitat for Humanity of Tennessee board member, presented Tony Gibbons, Executive Director of Blount County Habitat for Humanity with the Best Habitat Neighborhood Project award. In honor of Alcoa’s 100th year of operations in East Tennessee, they generously donated seven lots to Blount County Habitat for Humanity in the South Hall neighborhood. In addition, the Alcoa Foundation provided a grant of $50,000 to increase safety standards on the jobsite and energy efficient features in the seven homes.

This partnership has expanded the way Blount County Habitat for Humanity views community sustainability. Alcoa provided the means to construct the first four LEED-Certified residences in Blount County.

Blount County Habitat for Humanity also completed six housing repair projects and they have identified twenty more repair projects. They expect to continue their presence in this community for years to come.


Excellence in Housing Rehab: Habitat for Humanity of Greater Nashville

Trish Holliday, Habitat for Humanity of Tennessee board member, presented Chip Wilson, Senior Vice President of Construction for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Nashville with the Excellence in Housing Rehab award. This Affiliate recognized a unique opportunity to help revitalize neighborhoods while also addressing the need for affordable homeownership opportunities outside of the neighborhoods where Habitat is currently building new homes.

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Nashville has a partnership with The Housing Fund who acquired $3 million in federal funds through the local city housing authority for revitalization efforts in flood-impacted neighborhoods. The Housing Fund administers the funds to Habitat who purchases houses in flood-impacted neighborhoods, complete all necessary improvements, and recruit and prepare more families for their life-long dream of homeownership.

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Nashville has now purchased all 20 properties and has completed the transformation of homes for seven families. They embrace the ability to work with the entire inner-city neighborhood and can see the major impact they are making in their community by serving more families.