Home sweet home

CUMC finishes 19th Habitat home

Maria Garcia and her husband, Guillermo Gonzalez, are pictured during a break working on their Habitat home — the 19th home in which Concord United Methodist Church has been a major partner in construction.
With their 19th Habitat for Humanity home behind them, members of Concord United Methodist Church already are planning toward the next two.

The most recent home is located in Lenoir City and built in partnership with Loudon County Habitat for Humanity, just as the previous 16 had been (two were built with Blount County Habitat).

The Lenoir City home was dedicated June 28 and is the new residence for Guillermo Gonzales, his wife, Maria Garcia, and their daughters, Danielle and Angie, who previously had been living with family members before being able to afford their own home through Habitat.

Concord UMC has partnered with Loudon County Habitat the better part of the last two decades while also working with many other churches, businesses and individuals to ensure homes are provided in that county for those in need.

“Over the last 17 years, Concord has been a great support for funding and advocacy in our organization,” Loudon County Habitat executive director Tony Gibbons said.

At the church level, Concord United Methodist Men and the church’s Missions Ministry spearhead the ongoing project.

The church pledges the full sponsorship amount of $30,000 each year toward a new Habitat home, and also provides construction and support services throughout the timetable of each home build.

“Once we get that full sponsorship amount, we can partner with other churches or organizations to provide other work and services,” Gibbons said.

But that does not mean Concord UMC’s support ends with the seed money.

Gibbons said Habitat can depend on the church’s “infinite participation, even in the dead of winter or the summer heat.”

He said sometimes, based on a variety of factors, construction timetables must be shifted, but Concord UMC volunteers “have that understanding and the flexibility that comes with (those challenges).”

Gibbons has been so impressed with the efforts of Concord UMC he nominated it for the state Habitat for Humanity’s Community Partner of the Year, an award they won in late July.

A core group of church volunteers consistently work with Loudon County Habitat, including Nedra Cook as family coordinator and Chuck Parmele, who serves as the “lead” to coordinate the project.

Parmele has worked in that capacity for the last 15 years, and jokingly said he sees himself as “the head herder of cats” in securing project details.

Parmele’s long-standing commitment to Loudon County Habitat was recognized by the organization during the recent home dedication, where he received a Certificate of Appreciation for his work.

“It is a nice honor they gave me, but it is not about me. I’m just out front (helping to) get it done,” he said.

Concord UMC’s support “never wavered. They stayed true to their commitment,” Gibbons said. “Most affiliates don’t have that kind of consistent support. It is very rare and a real blessing.”

Already, Concord UMC is looking ahead, and beginning the fundraising cycle anew this month, which will raise money for its 21st house.

Its largest fundraiser is its Habitat for Humanity Golf Tournament, which will be held Monday, Aug. 13, at Willow Creek Golf Club.

The church also will host a silent auction on consecutive Sundays, Aug. 5 and Aug. 12, at the church to benefit Habitat.

Gibbons said $30,000 “is a lot to raise, but we can always depend on Concord.”