This spring, with 21 homes completed -- and the lives of 80 to 90 family members changed forever -- the organization will make one of its own dreams come true. A new project will create subdivision in the heart of town that will allow 11 additional families to live the dream of home ownership.
While habitat longtime volunteer Charlie James was looking for a lot to build the organization's last home, he was directed to property on Phillips Street just past Dyersburg Intermediate School. The lot, nearly 2.5 acres, used to be home to the Dyersburg City Schools Central Office.
While James and the Habitat board found a lot for the home they were constructing on a beautiful corner lot on Connell Street, the spacious property sparked an idea in James' heart.
"It is really a heartwarming story," said James. "Mr. Dallas Castleman was the owner of the land and he had offered it to the library. Just at that time, I was looking for a lot and this one was suggested to me. I walked over the whole area and things just started falling into place."
James said Habitat board members met at the property and were excited by the vision of creating an entire subdivision for the residents they serve. Habitat for Humanity of Northwest Tennessee purchased the property for an affordable price and Castleman donated the funds to the library.
"It was a win-win," said James. "With this community, we have no worries about completing the project. We know it will get done. In fact, we already have sponsorship for the first two homes."
James said in most communities the size of Dyer County, Habitat organizations are formed and dissolved quickly when residents lose interest. Funds from faithful Dyer County residents and the United Way of West Tennessee have allowed Habitat for Humanity of Northwest Tennessee to continue to change lives -- and neighborhoods -- for the better for over two decades.
"(This community has) sustained interest and enthusiasm and the money to keep them going," said James. "And we've seen lives changed forever. There have been so many lives changed by this ministry -- and mine the most!"
Habitat homes are built through donations of money and time and the sweat equity of the families who will reside in them. The program offers an end to the poverty cycle with simple, energy-efficient houses sold to partner families at no profit. The mortgage payments of the Habitat homes are used to construct more houses.
To date, Habitat for Humanity of Northwest Tennessee has rescued 21 local families from substandard homes and helped them achieve the dream of home ownership.