BAE Systems sponsors Holston Habitat for Humanity’s next house

Returning to civilian life after service in the armed forces is a challenge every veteran faces, yet not being able to afford your home is an extra challenge many vets do not expect.

Holston Habitat for Humanity is working to alleviate these financial concerns, and with sponsorship from BAE Systems, they were able to host a check presentation ceremony in Johnson City on Friday, Nov. 9.

Holston Habitat for Humanity’s Executive Director Trish Patterson said moments like this were important reminders of what she does.

“There is nothing better than helping these people,” Patterson said.

The day marked the celebration of the fourth house the organization has built in the tri-city area.

“We are passionate about giving back,” she said.

The new homeowner, Amy Cummings, is a veteran who served in the Navy for four years, from 1993 to 1996.

“There was a need,” Cummings said. “Some friends convinced me to apply for the loan.”

Despite common perception, Habitat for Humanity does not give away houses. They instead help build the house and provide a 0 percent interest mortgage on the finished product.

“It is not a hand-out,” she said. “You help build and pay for the house.”

Patterson said not just anyone qualifies for this special mortgage.

“They have to have a need for the home and a proven ability to pay,” Patterson said. “They also have to attend homeowner education classes.”

Patterson also said they require applicants fall within a certain income level, meaning anywhere between 30 and 65 percent of the average median income.

Once all the pre-requisites are complete, then the future homeowner can sign a contract with Habitat for Humanity and the work can begin.

Cummings said the organization approved her application for the loan in May of this year.

“Everyone in Habitat for Humanity has been so supportive,” she said. “You walk into the office or a meeting and it is all one big family.”

Cummings served in the Navy for roughly four years, yet she said she often does not feel like she belongs alongside other, older veterans because of her younger age.

“Sometimes you do not feel like you have served the way others have,” she said. “Sometimes you do not have much to be proud of, but we all have stories to tell. We all volunteered to do what we do.”

Patterson said it is ceremonies like this one that make her job enjoyable.

“Seeing and hearing the impact your work is doing, there is nothing better,” Patterson said.

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