From humble beginnings to 200 homes, Holston Habitat for Humanity celebrates 30th anniversary

KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) – Thirty years ago this week, a small group of volunteers founded the Northeast Tennessee chapter of Habitat for Humanity.

Since 1985, Holston Habitat for Humanity has built more than 200 homes for low income families across the Tri-Cities.

News Channel 11 had the privilege of working with Holston Habitat for Humanity on one of its most recent builds and saw firsthand what the organization does for members of the community.

“We started out with something like $35 I think, and a dream,” said Jo Morrison, one of the groups earliest volunteers.

Morrison said 30 years ago, she was asked to help bring a chapter of Habitat for Humanity to the Tri-Cities.
Jo Morrison
“I thought it sounded like an exciting challenge, so it was my privilege to help tell the story,” she said.

Morrison said over the past three decades, she’s witnesses hundreds of volunteers come together for a greater cause. “Its another kind of fellowship with people when you go out and hammer nails, than other social gatherings.”

At 99 years old, Morrison is not able to get out and volunteer at the builds anymore, but is still active in fund raising for the non-profit.

“Joining hands with so many people and organizations, putting our hands and hammers together and build homes, I think that’s just really exciting,” Morrison told News Channel 11.

She said she’s amazed by how much the organization has grown since 1985. “Well, i’m just blown away because when we started, we didn’t have an office, we just worked out of our hip pocket so to speak.”
Gillenwater - 1st house copy
And said she hopes Habitat for Humanity can spark other kinds of change in Northeast Tennessee. “I’d like to think that we can address other problems in the community the same way, people cooperating together.”

The non-profit will celebrate its 30th anniversary with a special dinner on Thursday at Boones Creek Christian Church in Johnson City.

Copyright WJHL 2015. All rights reserved.

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