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A Conversation with ECHO Partner, Habitat for Humanity

ECHO is ten days away, and the excitement is mounting! Hundreds of GFCers have signed up to serve at sites across the Tri Cities region - and we expect to see them along with many community members, friends, family, and first responders at our ECHO Celebration at Founders Park on the evening of July 30. This will be a rewarding time of watching God's love pour out onto our community.

We wanted you to meet one of our ECHO sites this year, so we had a conversation with Art Pearce, long-time GFCer and Executive Director of the Holston Habitat for Humanity in Kingsport, TN.

First of all, tell us a little about your ministry. What do you do? Who do you serve?

Holston Habitat for Humanity has been around for 31 years building houses in partnership with low-income families and giving them the opportunity to own their own home. We sell the homes to the families at 0% interest loans. The families participate in the process by taking home ownership classes and doing "sweat equity" on the building site with volunteers.  We utilize thousands of volunteers each year in our home-building process.

How did you get involved in the organization? Is it a personal passion of yours?

I have been involved as an Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity for 17 years - 12 in Battle Creek, MI, and 3 as the Habitat State Association Director. I moved back to the Tri-Cities in 2014 to become the Executive Director of this affiliate. It was kind of a homecoming to Grace Fellowship. My wife and I were a part of GFC from 1987-1993. We were involved in the start-up of Doe River Gorge, I served on the elder board, and Donna was on staff at GFC. It is great to be back. We are members of GFC and continue to volunteer with Doe River Gorge as we have opportunity.

Welcome home, Art and Donna! We are thankful for your faithful service over the years.

As you know, we are sending several people your way for an ECHO project on July 30. We’re excited to serve you in this way! What’s some of the work GFCers can expect to do at Habitat for Humanity during ECHO?

Our affiliate has a successful Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Kingsport. This "thrift-type" store sells household and building materials, appliances, and everything but clothing to the community at deep discounts, and the proceeds are recycled into building and repairing houses.

We are starting a new ReStore in Johnson City this fall and are getting the building ready for a projected Grand Opening in September. The ECHO volunteers will be helping to prepare our space for occupancy. They will be painting, cleaning donations, doing some remodeling of our space, and helping us get the 15,000 square foot building ready. There is a lot to do before we open.

What are other ways GFCers can support the work you’re doing in the community?

We are always looking for "families in need" of decent, affordable housing and low-income families that need repairs on their homes.  We also are looking for new friends who will volunteer to help build. It does not require any previous experience; we have quality supervisors and trainers at each work site. We also need friends who will support the efforts with donations of good, used product for the ReStore and cash donation to the cause. You may have seen the "It's Coming" signs around town - please visit the JC ReStore when it opens in September. It is located off Mountainview Rd. just off I-26, behind Walmart.

And last but not least, will we see you at the post-ECHO Celebration at Founders Park? We assume you've heard about the Battle at Bristol raffle...

We look forward to celebrating all the good work that was accomplished at all the sites and seeing who the happy individuals who get the "tickets for the big game"! Habitat is also involved in the "big game" in September. We are hosting "The Battle of the Habitat Playhouses".  We encourage volunteers to vote for their favorite team and have the chance to win a  "Hokie's Castle" or "Smokie's Doghouse". 

What a great idea, Art!

We encourage those who are interested in learning more about Habitat for Humanity, Habitat's ReStores, and The Battle of the Habitat Playhouses to visit them online at

 Learn more about ECHO or the ECHO Celebration at Founders Park online.

1 comment (Add your own)

1. Joni Nedderman wrote:
After several years of participating in ECHO we will miss this special event at GFC this time. We would love to have helped out at Restore with Art and Donna. But all our kids and our 20 grandkids are gathering at our son's house in South Carolina to celebrate our 50th anniversary that weekend. We will sure miss the fun and joy of serving on ECHO day. We will be praying it's a beautiful and cooler day for all the projects.

Joni and Carl

Sat, July 23, 2016 @ 10:10 AM

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