‘A House Makes a Home’: Single mom, construction co. chairman remark on bittersweet Habitat for Humanity build

Positively Tennessee

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – A single mother of two is getting ready to move into her Habitat for Humanity home just in time for the holidays.

The build was led by longtime Habitat supporter Marv House, Chairman of Merit Construction, in memory of his wife Janie, who passed away from cancer just over a year ago.

The theme of the bittersweet build, “A House Makes a Home.”

Marv House and soon-to-be homeowner Crystal Smith are doing a walk-through before she moves in, but it’s more like a fun walk down memory lane.

“You remember when we tried to hang these cabinets?” Marv laughs, “They were all off six inches!” Crystal laughs and says , “yes.”

The two bonded during the build in memory of Marv’s wife Janie.
It began July 10th, Janie’s birthday, and was dedicated September 28th, one year after Janie passed away.

Janie was known and loved by the Habitat for Humanity community, working on many-a-build over the years.

Family and friends from all over the country came in to wear the “A House Makes a Home” T-shirts, working hard to help Marv carry out his mission to honor his wife of 49 years.

“What can I tell you about Janie?” Marv says, “She was a small girl but she was a powerful girl; she loved to help give to other people and she probably got me involved with the giving back philosophy.”

Giving back is something Crystal is embracing.

She put in sweat equity: Helping to build her home, all while working full time at a local manufacturing plant, coaching her daughter Mahogany’s softball team, and taking care of her one year old son Shaheen.

She also had to attend budget planning classes, and quickly became a mentor to others in the program.

Crystal says, “We’ve been renting and renting for so many years, we can finally say we have something to call our own.”

There’s a purple room for Mahogany that will be decorated by a team of her teachers.

A brand new oven in the kitchen , with photos and inspiring messages already on the refrigerator.

What you don’t see are other messages, Bible verses within the walls, and on the framework.

Crystal wipes away tears as she says, “So once we got the interior walls up, me and my daughter actually came over and we wrote scriptures on some of the walls.”

While the guiding force of this build was Janie House, everyone’s faith was tested again and again when Marv and Janie’s son Jeff suddenly passed away only three weeks after he helped with construction.

Marv says, “We had two losses. This house means a lot to me. We have a little plaque on the swing out front, his cousins donated the swing and we’ve got a little plaque on it remembering him.”

Marv looks at Crystal and says, “We all felt special, you know?” Crystal hugs him and says, “I did , too.”

For more information on Knoxville Habitat for Humanity and how to apply
 for a Habitat House, go to knoxvillehabitatforhumanity.com.

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