Habitat for Humanity of Tennessee is proud to announce the 2016 State Impact Award winners. These individuals and groups have significantly impacted the lives of children, adults and communities in Tennessee. These awards were presented at a ceremony held at the Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center during Habitat Tennessee’s Annual State 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’s selection committee members include Ted Fellman, Senior Vice President for Raymond James; Jo Matherne, first female Mayor of Brownsville; Barry Tidwell, Rutherford County General Sessions Judge; 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.

2016 Habitat for Humanity International Tithe Awards

Mary Welch, Senior Director of U.S. Affiliate Services at Habitat for Humanity International presented the “Most Significant Increases in Tithe” Awards to four Tennessee Affiliates.

Art Pearce, Holston Habitat for Humanity

Dwayne Spencer, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Memphis

Melissa Cross & team, Putnam County Habitat for Humanity

Danny Herron, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Nashville

2016 Outstanding Leader of the Year: Roy Saylor

Jim Tracy presented Roy Saylor with the Outstanding Leader of the Year award which is presented to an individual within a Habitat affiliate who has demonstrated exemplary leadership, judgment, compassion, commitment and vision within their own organization and within the community.

This year for the first time, our award winner is not an executive director but a Construction Manager.

In over 12 years with Rutherford County Habitat, Roy has seen the construction of 92 homes; managing a construction staff of three, a regular-volunteer construction staff of twelve and is responsible for over 3000 volunteers annually.

Roy manages to balance his desire to serve others and give of himself with the needs of the agency and thus he builds a beautiful, energy star certified, indoor air plus certified home that he ensures carries an exemplary energy efficiency rating to guarantee homebuyers affordable utilities to accompany their affordable mortgage payments.

Staff and board members have described him as: “Roy is the most compassionate and smartest man I know”, “Roy is hippy green, wants to recycle and use the most eco-friendly products possible”, “Roy has a way of making volunteers feel comfortable doing whatever task is necessary from digging a hole to working on the roof of a two story house”, and “Roy makes those building around him feel comfortable, competent and safe and above all of that he makes it fun”.

Roy always goes above and beyond for homeowners, exceeding what anyone would consider to be reasonable expectations, even once by altering a floor plan at the request of future homeowner. For all of the effort and the temptation to say no to the request, Roy considered the benefit to the homeowner to far outweigh the impact on him and on the construction staff. You see, the request was from a home bound, disabled man whose wife wanted him to be able to look at the window in the front of the house to be able to see out into the world that he was previously used to being a part of every day. That homeowner later passed away, but he enjoyed sitting by that window and looking out from his first home. Whenever people pass by this home, those who knew of the homeowner are reminded of the lasting impact that Roy’s act of kindness and self-sacrifice had on that family.

Roy is most admired for his drive to make things happen, even when those things require rearranging his scheduled vacation days – all in service of our families, our affiliates and our Lord. This is the sacrificial service that is modeled for all of us by Roy Saylor.

2016 Outstanding Corporate Partner of the Year: Nissan

Jim Tracy presented the Outstanding Corporate Partner of the Year Award to Jeff Younginer, Director of Product Quality Assurance for Nissan’s Smyrna plant.

Nissan’s national partnership with Habitat for Humanity dates back over a decade. After hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated the Gulf Coast, Nissan donated 50 Titan trucks filled with construction supplies, then mobilized employees to take the goods to Louisiana to assist Habitat’s response efforts in homebuilding. Since the partnership’s inception, Nissan’s nationwide support for Habitat for Humanity has included $13 million in cash donations, 70,000 hours in volunteer labor, and involvement in building well over 70 homes. Additionally, Nissan has donated nearly 140 vehicles.

Nissan’s relationship with Tennessee affiliates began in 2007. Over the past decade, Nissan has provided funding for the construction of approximately 35 homes, supplied countless volunteers, offered leadership and guidance through participation on affiliate boards and committees, and donated work vehicles including trucks and vans, in support of Habitat affiliates in Davidson, Williamson, Maury, Rutherford, Franklin, Coffee and Warren counties. The impact and reaching nature of Nissan’s work has touched many Tennessean’s.

In the fiscal year of 2016 alone, just in Tennessee, Nissan has funded new home builds, sponsored the “Heisman House” which generated superb television coverage for Habitat when Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota assisted in Greater Nashville Habitat’s build and returned for the home dedication, provided the use of vehicles in transportation for the Rutherford County Habitat Homebuilders Blitz dedication, participated in the Williamson/Maury County Habitat’s golf tournament, and provided other significant acts of support, too numerous to mention.

As described by Rutherford County Executive Director Terri Shultz, “Everyone I’ve ever spoken with at Nissan, from the VPs to the guys on the line, has truly been wonderful and a blessing to Habitat. Nissan always exceeds our expectations. We consider Nissan a true friend not only to Habitat and our community, but to each one of us as well. We have even had Nissan employees send birthday wishes to our staff and attend family funerals. We are also blessed to have Jeff Younginer, Director of Product Quality Assurance for Nissan’s Smyrna plant, serve on our Board of Directors.”

Dan Bedore, the Director of Nissan Division Communications and Habitat of Greater Nashville board member recently said: “This partnership is a relationship that goes to the heart of our values, not only as a corporate citizen, but as neighbors in the communities in which we live, work and serve.”

2016 Favorite ReStore of the Year: Habitat for Humanity of Sumner County

Ryan Williams presented Paul Sears, Manager of Habitat for Humanity of Sumner County’s ReStore with this award.

In its third full year in its new building in Gallatin, the Sumner Habitat Restore is expected to exceed $450,000 in gross revenue. This is a 22% increase over the previous year! In addition, with its net profit of almost $250,000, the ReStore is responsible for providing the funds to build three and a half Habitat homes in Sumner County over the last year.

According to several local community leaders, the ReStore is a popular shopping destination in Sumner County. Gallatin Mayor, Paige Brown shops regularly in the store. Mayor Brown stated that “everyone knows and loves the ReStore-it’s a great community partner and an important retail amenity in the community.” She also noted that “it’s very commonplace to go into a home or business in the area and spot an interesting piece of furniture or decoration to find that it had been acquired at the ReStore.”

Besides being a popular destination for thrifty shopping and a source of funds for Habitat for Humanity of Sumner County, the ReStore has served the Sumner County community in many other ways, from providing auction items for area non-profits and churches to providing weekly donations of over-inventory to the Westmoreland Foodbank and Thriftshop. For the third year, the ReStore and the Gallatin Public Library have teamed up to sponsor a Doctor Who themed “Exterminate Hunger” food drive for the Sumner County Food Bank, resulting in a donation of over 1,000 food items for Thanksgiving.

The ReStore has also become a very popular location for volunteer hours, especially for the Tennessee Promise students from Volunteer State Community College and area high schools. The ReStore has benefitted from almost 3000 volunteer hours during the last year! Due to the ReStore’s excellent creativity and ingenuity, the “Doctor Who” TARDIS created by the ReStore has brought in business and visitors, while also supplying a profitable rental item for various events around the region.

The ReStore of Habitat Sumner County is a positive force in the local community. They have prospered from excellent community relations which has yielded many return customers who know their money spent remains in the local community, while accommodating the growing and diverse, surrounding community.

2016 Outstanding Community Partner of the Year: Rivermont Presbyterian Church of Chattanooga

Ryan Williams presented Jim Ford, Bob Reid and Charlie Belcher of Rivermont Presbyterian Church with the Outstanding Community Partner of the Year award.

1 John 3:18 tells us, “Let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” This award winner is the epitome of love with action.

When you walk in the halls of the Rivermont Presbyterian Church, you will come across a wall with photos of homes. Homes built through a partnership in Christ. Homes built for families with their own lives, their own realities, their own blessings. You will see 17 images of new beginnings, all funded by Rivermont.

Amazingly, Rivermont comes out once a week, each and every week for Habitat, and has done so for 24 years. They have worked on close to 270 houses. Several of the Rivermont group members have also served on their Board of Directors, their Construction Committee and have been instrumental in developing their Safety and Health program. Besides donating collectively as a church group, they all individually donate. Habitat of Chattanooga is not the only place that they give freely to. This group has also completed many extensive projects at the Chattanooga Community Kitchen, which is the city’s largest shelter and day program for the homeless.

The cornerstone of Rivermont and where they make a difference is when they are standing beside a future homebuyer or an inexperienced volunteer, and being a mentor and teacher. Showing another person HOW to do a task and WHY it is necessary is the strength Rivermont brings to their job-sites. That first day on a Habitat job-site can be intimidating to someone who does not know how hold a hammer to efficiently drive a nail or how to read a tape measure. Our Rivermont crew is quick to demonstrate these tasks while calming nerves, encouraging and being that friendly face that invites conversation.

What is impressive to so many of us, is if asked about their work and support of Habitat, Rivermont humbly says it’s nothing, just how they help the next one in line. They all lead by example but would not declare themselves leaders. Each is one of a kind, generously helping mankind while humbly declaring they are the ones receiving not the ones giving.

2016 Outstanding Volunteer Group of the Year: Bill Barrett, Gerry Bates, Mike Bonabi, Phill Cohee, Roland Gutherz, Ron Harris, Rusty Kelly, Steve Moore, Larry Powell, Bobby Stephens, Lee Strode, and Kit Zelenka

Barry Tidwell presented the Outstanding Volunteer Group of the Year award to the Rutherford County Habitat “Saw Bones”.

“In this life, we cannot always do great things, but we can do small things with great love”, this Mother Theresa quote describes these volunteer.

Over the past ten years, Rutherford County Habitat has been blessed with a growing group of regular volunteers which is now a group of twelve. This devoted group consists of eleven men and one women. During the last fiscal year alone, the “Saw Bones” volunteered for a combined 5,048 hours. They are selfless, hardworking, compassionate, smart, funny, and have become a significant part of the Habitat family. Every week this group gives of their time, talent, and treasure. Their volunteerism does not stop at the construction site. They help with special events, donate to the cause, advocate for the mission, and truly are willing to help in any way they possibly can.

Their tireless spirits have allowed Rutherford County Habitat to serve more families, meet grant deadlines, and make their community a better place. Just like the twelve apostles, God is using these ordinary individuals in an extraordinary manner!

2016 Outstanding Government Funding Partner of the Year: Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency (MDHA)

Barry Tidwell presented Angela Hubbard, Director of Community Development at Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency with this award.

MDHA and Habitat for Humanity of Greater Nashville are long-standing partners, with funding provided by MDHA for the development of Habitat’s 112-home Timberwood Community in North Nashville, which was completed in 2010, to supporting renovation work on homes in East Nashville in 2011 and 2012, to making federal funds available for revitalization efforts in areas of Metro Nashville that were impacted by the historic May 2010 floods, and most recently to providing land, funding and homeowner down payment assistance.

MDHA creates affordable housing opportunities for Nashvillians while nurturing and growing neighborhoods. Given that focus, they are a critical funding and advocacy partner for the Greater Nashville affiliate in its continued pursuit to provide affordable homeownership opportunities in Davidson County. MDHA associates are ever-present at key forums convened to evaluate viable approaches to continued affordable homeownership. MDHA’s funding, volunteer support and advocacy are all fundamental to the ongoing mission of Habitat for Humanity.

In fiscal year 2016 alone, Habitat built 6 new homes on lots awarded by MDHA and welcomed 8 other new homeowners who received down payment assistance through this phenomenal government funding partner. MDHA administers these funds, awarded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on behalf of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County.

MDHA staff also volunteered at the build site to help construct one of the eight homes and participated in the dedication ceremonies for all of the homes. By sheer coincidence, one of the eight new homeowners whose home was the beneficiary of this funding was a grandmother who had previously been a resident of one of MDHA’s apartment communities. MDHA Executive Director Jim Harbison helped to cut the ribbon on that home, sharing in the homeowner’s incredible determination and sense of accomplishment at achieving her goal of homeownership.

2016 Outstanding Mentor of the Year: Sonia Lee

Barry Tidwell presented this award to an individual who has demonstrated constant acts of care for the Habitat affiliate, exemplifying the true spirit of commitment, selflessness, generosity, concern and action.

Known as the ‘Wizard of Mortgage Policies and Procedures,’ Ms. Sonia Lee is the go-to authority for affiliates needing mortgage assistance. She always makes herself available for conferences, numerous emails and countless phone calls. She is always pleasant, always helpful, always knowledgeable and able to communicate it well so we can all try to understand the hoops and hurdles of mortgages.

Sonia is known as being responsive and available to all those needing assistance, regardless of affiliation or location. She addresses all individuals with urgency and respect. Her responses are given with unwavering consistency and from a position of authority and knowledge of the subject matter. Her presence and disposition, even while typically seen through technology, is always comforting and service-oriented.

Sonia has even taken time from her own work schedule to travel to meet with affiliates as often as she is needed; leading over ten workshops in our state alone over the past 2 years.

A new affiliate staff person said this about Sonia: “Knowing that someone at Habitat International was willing to answer the questions of a new employee at a local affiliate meant a lot and gave me the encouragement I needed to research and learn about mortgage loan origination and servicing.”

Sonia’s collected, wise confidence has bolstered many affiliates through some of their most challenging times!

2016 Outstanding Intern of the Year: Adrian Szycowski

Ted Fellman presented Adrian Szycowski with the 2016 Outstanding Intern of the Year award. Having completed his first year at Emory University School of Law, Adrian has generously shared his time and talents to better Habitat for Humanity and the families we serve by volunteering as an intern. He applied his growing legal knowledge to assist in reviewing and drafting legal documents and pursuing special projects.

The majority of Adrian’s time has been spent working with Habitat for Humanity of Tennessee’s Board Committee focused on standardizing business processes across affiliates in Tennessee. Adrian reviewed various legal instruments and affiliate documents. Through this review, and by applying the initiative of his own legal research, he has prepared draft documents to support affiliates statewide. Thanks to Adrian, our goal of having standardized documents available for affiliates is now a reality.

Beyond this work, Adrian has conducted research and made recommendations on several business matters at Greater Nashville. His research has spanned from tax law, to disclosures for donations received, and to establishing agreements to formalize naming rights for major donors contributing toward Habitat facilities. In all cases, Adrian has been dependable, diligent, thorough and professional in his work. He has demonstrated extremely solid character and enthusiasm to learn, grow and contribute to society.

There is no doubt that during his summer with Habitat for Humanity, Adrian has made a tremendous contribution to better affiliates in our state. Affiliates across the state and the families that we serve will be better off since Adrian was here!

2016 Outstanding ReStore Volunteer of the Year: Shee Shee Jin

Ted Fellman presented Shee Shee Jin with our second Outstanding ReStore Volunteer of the Year award. Shee Shee Jin is a recent graduate of the Vanderbilt University Law School and completed her undergraduate work at MIT. She has volunteered on a weekly basis completing over 25 deconstructions removing kitchen cabinets, appliances, light fixtures and more with the mostly male DeConstruct team at Habitat for Humanity of Greater Na. She worked with Jim Neal, DeConstruct services director, disassembling a $40,000 kitchen, which was sold at the ReStore for $7,000, to benefit affordable homeownership.

Shee Shee has volunteered over 150 hours at the ReStore, often twice a week, not only performing deconstructions, but also helping stock merchandise, greet customers, complete sales or do whatever was needed not only at the ReStore but also the warehouse, where merchandise is stored. She has even gone on large furniture pickups hauling and packing furniture and merchandise items and never complained once!

Shee Shee is kind, intelligent, engaging, caring, hard-working, and most of all she has been a wonderful friend to those at the ReStore. She is one of those rare people who makes everyone she comes in contact with feel at peace. Shee Shee volunteers when it is hot, cold, and even when she is feeling sick – all while getting her law degree. She has gone above and beyond to care for Habitat’s donors, staff and volunteers by baking cookies and spending time with everyone.

In the next few months she will be leaving Nashville and heading to Washington D.C. to start her first job working in the internet security sector.

2016 Outstanding ReStore Volunteer of the Year: Ms. Isabel Lebeau

Jo Matherne presented Ms. Isabel Lebeau with one of our two Outstanding ReStore Volunteer of the Year awards.

In the words of Rick Warren, “Faithful servants never retire. You can retire from your career, but you will never retire from serving God.”

Ms. Isabel Lebeau is a retired octogenarian, but you would never know it. She is active in her church and is also a dedicated volunteer for the Westmoreland Food Bank. In one of her past careers, she was even a miner. In another of her past careers she taught a food and nutrition class, and was a food judge for the Sumner County Fair.

She has been a constant volunteer with the Habitat for Humanity of Sumner County ReStore for the past year and spends her time in the store updating displays and assisting customers. Often customers want to buy her displays. She uses everyday items to make the merchandise stand out which undoubtedly increases sales! She is always looking for different ways to make the store more attractive in the most unique way. In addition to her display talents, she makes it a point to greet and assist everyone she sees come into the store. She makes each day a little brighter wherever she goes.

Ms. Isabel is also an active supporter of the ReStore. She recruits friends and acquaintances to become involved in the mission of the ReStore by volunteering or to come shop at the store. Ms. Isabel quickly endeared herself to other ReStore volunteers and employees by supplying all birthdays, meetings, and special events with her homemade goodies!

This dynamo took the lead in doing table decorations for Habitat’s main fundraiser and has been a participant in those activities by supporting them with her presence. In her time with the Sumner Restore, Isabel has become a valued member of the Habitat family. She exemplifies the spirit of giving back and helping others which is what Habitat is all about!

2016 Most Creative Marketing: Holston Habitat for Humanity – Battle of the Habitat Playhouses

Jo Matherne presented this award to the Habitat that most utilized their resources and ingenuity to seize excellent marketing endeavors.

In anticipation of the football game scheduled in the fall of 2016 at Bristol Raceway, the Holston Habitat staff looked to identify a creative strategy to maximize this opportunity in their service area.

Dubbed the “Battle at Bristol”, the game is expected to draw and exceed a crowd of over 160,000 football fans from the University of Tennessee and Virginia Tech in a nationally-televised game. This will be the largest collegiate football game in history and has been sold out for months.

The Holston Habitat team developed the idea for each college would build a child playhouse and then they would compete for the most votes. The playhouses were then constructed by the construction science management and construction science engineering students at their respective colleges, and built in compliance with applicable child-safety standards and guidelines.

In addition to raffling the playhouses, Holston Habitat will enhance the spirit of friendly competition between the two universities by awarding a Habitat Playhouse Battle Winner award to the University whose playhouse sold the most raffle tickets. And two lucky winners will be able to own a unique “Smokie’s Doghouse” or “Hokie Castle” playhouse for their children or grandchildren.

Both universities are generating media exposure and excitement for the upcoming “battle.” The Habitat staff and volunteers, and Alumni groups from each university are promoting the Habitat mission!