Habitat for Humanity of Tennessee is proud to announce the 2015 State Impact Award winners. These individuals and groups have significantly impacted the lives of children, adults and communities in Tennessee. They are making tremendous strides in supporting Habitat for Humanity’s quest to end poverty housing. Awards were presented at a ceremony 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; Jo Matherne, first female Mayor of Brownsville; Steve Ruckart, founder of RAI Advisors; Jim Tracy, State Senator and Chairman of the Senate Transportation and Safety Committee; and Ryan Williams, State Representative and Chairman of the House Health Subcommittee.


Lifetime Achievement Award: John Folger

Steve Ruckart, Habitat for Humanity of Tennessee’s Board President, presented John Folger with a Lifetime Achievement award. Dr. Folger has served his community his entire life and has served Habitat for Humanity for several decades. His passion for the mission stays strong and continues to grow.

Dr. Folger is unassuming but firm in his beliefs and actions to build and grow affiliates to reach their full potential. His knowledge of activities and history is used to plan positive actions that always have a goal and purpose to expand knowledge and bring success. Dr Folger’s passion, skills and knowledge have impacted Habitat for Humanity of Greater Nashville and Habitat for Humanity of Tennessee; serving as a founding member on both boards. He continues to be active on the state affiliate support committee as well as other community organizations as he reaches into an age where most do no volunteering. Dr. Folger is truly an inspiration and a blessing to many with his thoughtful praise and generous attitude of service.


Lifetime Achievement Award: Coralee Holloway

Jim Tracy, State Senator and Habitat for Humanity of Tennessee Board Member, presented Coralee Holloway with a Lifetime Achievement award. Ms. Holloway is one of the most dedicated and passionate advocates for affordable housing. She departs the Tennessee Housing Development Agency the end of this year as Director of Community Programs where she has been an outstanding steward of its responsibilities. Ms. Holloway is well-versed in the numerous HUD-funded programs and truly grasps the impact these programs have on affordable housing organizations.

Ms. Holloway’s recognition speaks to her integrity demonstrated through her lifetime of best practices and leadership. She is the one who ensures all the details are in place and that her staff upholds the finest in customer service. Ms. Holloway balances rigorous attention to detail and rules with a refined approach that results in efficient program implementation and effective oversight. She personally encourages organizations to apply for funding and ensures that her staff is qualified to help applicants be successful partners.


Affiliate of the Year: Rutherford County Area Habitat for Humanity

Jim Tracy, State Senator and Habitat for Humanity of Tennessee Board Member, presented Kelle Shultz, President/CEO of Knoxville Habitat for Humanity with the Outstanding Leader of the Year award. Leadership takes perseverance, dedication, and a commitment to stretchen people’s minds, expand their heart, and use their God-given gifts to impact our world in real and powerful ways. Ms. Shultz’ leadership style has a way to bring these attributes together for each and every person she touches. She is a leader who knows her gifts and uses them wisely. Ms. Shultz has built solid relationships within her community. Whether it is sitting across the table from a major donor asking for a six figure donation or welcoming a ReStore volunteer to their first shift, she treats everyone as a treasured gift.

Each staff member, volunteer and board member was challenged to respond to situations never faced before. They experienced opposition and challenges. They exhibited courage, grace under pressure … when it would have been easier to turn their back, this group pressed forward with God on their side. Ms. Shultz demonstrated exceptional leadership during this difficult time, she has implemented positive changes to the organization as a forward thinking team leader.


Favorite ReStore: Cumberland County Habitat for Humanity

Ted Fellman, Habitat for Humanity of Tennessee board member, presented Melinda Weigle and Vanessa Petty of Cumberland County Habitat for Humanity, with the Favorite ReStore award. This ReStore has become popular with volunteers and established itself as a shopping destination and a successful funder of Habitat’s mission. They have grown from being a “once a month” sale out of a storage building to a large building that houses both the Restore and their administrative offices. The Restore is now open 6 days a week and is operated and maintained with just one full-time Restore Manager, 4 part-time employees and many, many volunteers. Last year, Restore sales reached over $481,000 and they are projected to exceed that this year.

Cumberland County Habitat for Humanity ReStore’s success is a testament to what can happen when everyone works together and put words into action. Due to the commitment and hard work of their over 115 active volunteers, the ReStore is able to cover all overhead expenses and build three new houses each year. Volunteers also run the craft department, better known as the “upstairs elves” who bring a unique quality by repurposing household donations and creating beautiful, original art. Restore sales just through this craft department alone since 2007 has been enough to build 3 Habitat for Humanity homes. There is a cycle of giving that exists through this Restore and every year, more homes are built and more families experience God’s love through this wonderful organization.


Outstanding Partner of the Year: Thrivent Financial

Steve Ruckart, Habitat for Humanity of Tennessee’s Board President, presented David Mietzner of Thrivent Financial with the Outstanding Partner of the Year award. Thrivent Financial is a member-owned fraternal benefit society operating under a chapter system, serving 2.4 million members. They rank 333 out of the Fortune 500 and its purpose is to help Christians be wise with money and live generously. This year, Thrivent Financial celebrates its 10th year of partnership with Habitat for Humanity, a ten year total at $213 million resulting in more than 4.4 million volunteer hours on 4,600 homes. In Tennessee, Thrivent members from Memphis to Maryville have raised over $1m to build 21 Habitat homes using more than 2,600 volunteers.

In 2015, Thrivent Financial committed $12 million for the construction and rehabilitation of 121 Habitat for Humanity homes. Each Thrivent Build award covers approximately 50% of the total house costs ….which makes it really easy for affiliates to add a home to their build schedule… and allow another FAMILY to have stable housing. Thrivent remained committed to Habitat for Humanity even during the changing economic environment and also found opportunities to expand its impact to low income families through additional resources such as the Thrivent Repairs program which funds up to $7,500 per project and their local Action Team grants that support fundraising activities. More funds, more volunteers, more impact. This isn’t a business relationship. It’s a Partnership.


Outstanding Leader of the Year: Kelle Shultz

Steve Ruckart, Habitat for Humanity of Tennessee’s Board President, presented David Mietzner of Thrivent Financial with the Outstanding Partner of the Year award. Thrivent Financial is a member-owned fraternal benefit society operating under a chapter system, serving 2.4 million members. They rank 333 out of the Fortune 500 and its purpose is to help Christians be wise with money and live generously. This year, Thrivent Financial celebrates its 10th year of partnership with Habitat for Humanity, a ten year total at $213 million resulting in more than 4.4 million volunteer hours on 4,600 homes. In Tennessee, Thrivent members from Memphis to Maryville have raised over $1m to build 21 Habitat homes using more than 2,600 volunteers.

Ms. Shultz’ willingness to begin and stay positive in the face of many different challenges brings the staff together in a “can do” attitude. She provides an atmosphere of creativity where outside the box ideas are welcome and encouraged. Deeply committed to creating a work environment that is an extension of the Habitat family, Ms. Shultz cares about the needs, stresses, and little joys in the lives of her staff. Quickly recognizing gifts and talents of staff and volunteers, she encourages them to challenge their limits and go beyond to do their best.


Outstanding Leadership Volunteer of the Year: Rachel Craig

Ted Fellman, Habitat for Humanity of Tennessee board member, presented Rachel Craig of Habitat for Humanity Northwest Tennessee with the Outstanding Leadership Volunteer of the Year award. Ms. Craig began serving Habitat for Humanity in 2006 and currently serves as board president. She has made it to every Saturday volunteer build that her busy schedule allows. Ms. Craig’s love for the mission of Habitat for Humanity compelled her to get her church involved in a new subdivision project; where she has raised over $70,000 to date.

Ms. Craig’s commitment to those in need is where she shines the most. She and her husband started a blanket drive for the homeless and a ‘Christmas Day Dinner’ for those who are hungry or just were alone on Christmas.

Ms. Craig led the 2015 county-wide ‘Mission Blitz’ that brought 18 churches together for a day to do outreach in the community. This event had over 750 volunteers and 75 jobs were completed. She was recently quoted in the newspaper saying: ‘Let’s open our hearts to others in our community. We are all stronger and the world is a better place when we live in true community’. In her day job, Ms. Craig is the President of a local manufacturing company and a mother of two children. She is also an accomplished marathon runner with over 30 races under her belt.


Outstanding Construction Volunteer of the Year: Scott Jenkins

Jo Matherne, Habitat for Humanity of Tennessee board member, presented Scott Jenkins of Habitat for Humanity of Sumner County with the Outstanding Construction Volunteer of the Year award. As a construction volunteer since the first new home was built in 1995, Mr. Jenkins is unwavering in his service to Habitat for Humanity. On the 20th anniversary of the first build, he continues to serve on every single build as the Volunteer Crew Leader for the first two days of framing. To date, he has served in this capacity through 47 builds and shows no signs of letting up. Mr. Jenkins has also served as a member of the board of directors and he served as the liaison to the general contractor in the construction of this affiliate’s new 15,000 square foot ReStore and Administrative Office Building.

Over the last year, Mr. Jenkins has helped Habitat for Humanity of Sumner County grow to building five new homes for the first time. He always provides great input on the logistics of scheduling and organizing the builds. Mr. Jenkins works with the framing crew to organize volunteers. Because of his great leadership and preparation on the building site, framing can be 90% complete in one day. Mr. Jenkins has been pivotal in the growth of this affiliate. With no full time construction manager, his loyalty and tireless support is invaluable.


Outstanding Local Community Partnership of the Year: Nashville School of Law

Ryan Williams, State Representative and Habitat for Humanity of Tennessee board member, presented Dean William C. Koch, Jr. and John Lewis of Nashville School of Law with the Outstanding Local Community Partnership of the Year award along with John Roberts, CFO of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Nashville. The genesis for this partnership came from the intersection of a long-term, unmet need for wills for Habitat homeowners and Nashville School of Law’s commitment to establish a vibrant pro bono program through which attorneys and law students would work together to serve the local community.

The law students work in teams of two to four and begin with the intake process for families coming to have their wills prepared. The law students ensure proper preparation has been completed prior to the attorney engaging with the family. When everything is in order, the team of students goes with the family and works side-by-side with a licensed attorney who actually prepares the will documents. The law students contribute to the process and get real world experience in the process of preparing wills. Upon completion of their session, the Habitat family leaves with a fully-executed will. To date, there have been four clinics, involving nine attorneys and thirty students…..preparing wills for 26 Habitat homeowners. Habitat families are seeing the great value of having a will, and attorneys and law students are able to contribute their services, gain experience, and also enjoy the personal reward of truly helping deserving families in need.

The Tennessee Supreme Court has encouraged all law schools within the state to establish pro bono programs; Nashville School of Law has established itself as a leader among the other schools in this area through the scope, reach, and success of this partnership with Habitat for Humanity.


Excellence in Community Outreach: Habitat for Humanity of Blount County

Ryan Williams, State Representative and Habitat for Humanity of Tennessee board member, presented Tony Gibbons, Executive Director for Habitat for Humanity of Blount County with the Excellence in Community Outreach award. Blount County is a community where approximately 50% of graduating high school students do not have a post high school career or education plan. Realizing the need, they chose to increase their partnership with the local high school by accepting a grant to increase youth involvement by establishing a workforce development initiative utilizing the Habitat for Humanity construction site.

Through partnerships with the Homebuilders Association, United Way, and the University of Tennessee … 279 college and high school students between the ages of 16 and 26 were involved in 20+ hours of construction based activities and skill development. As part of their carpentry course, 24 students from local high schools participated in a construction based experiential style classroom incorporating the academic requirements for course completion. Career “splash” pages were given to each student detailing the related career paths within the construction industry.

The University of Tennessee’s Department of Counselor Education conducted pre and post survey assessments to determine the impact this experience has on their career path decisions and held classroom discussions on construction related careers. Professional homebuilders, tradesmen, suppliers – all members of the Homebuilders Association – provided 20-minute testimonials and answered questions about working in the construction field. They also assessed individual students for potential job placement. Students learned “real world” construction skills and work ethic while building residential homes for Habitat for Humanity.


Best Habitat Neighborhood Project: Habitat for Humanity of Greater Chattanooga Area

Jo Matherne, Habitat for Humanity of Tennessee board member, presented David Butler and Daniel Gamble of Greater Chattanooga Area with the Best Habitat Neighborhood Project 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 Chattanooga Area facilitated a partnership with BCBS of Tennessee to include four other Tennessee Habitat for Humanity affiliates. Each affiliate received a generous financial contribution as well as one or more days of volunteers to work on both new home construction and Neighborhood Revitalization. Since BCBS of Tennessee is headquartered in Hamilton County, this partnership challenged Habitat for Humanity of Greater Chattanooga Area to find work for 250+ volunteers over a two-week period – twice as many as they normally had in that time frame. So, meetings were set up to find out what the residents needed.

After analyzing these needs, a “Neighborhood Revitalization Blitz” was planned and executed over a 2 week period last fall that included 5 neighborhood projects: a community walk for awareness; the exterior beautification of 2 houses across the street from each other was completed; extensive work was completed at a middle school that serves more than 500 students of which 99.5% are economically disadvantaged and 21% have disabilities; Overgrown alleyways between homes were cleared; and lastly, a community-wide block party where students and their families were invited.

More than 150 residents turned out for a hot dog and chips and to enjoy a good time. The Police Department was out in force – officers were tossing footballs and frisbees with teenagers and the Fire Department brought out their truck and kids of all ages learned about fire safety. The impact of this work continues to be felt in the community. The neighborhood residents grasp the depth of Habitat for Humanity’s commitment. Hundreds of lives were touched by the work of two weeks and a community came together to celebrate.