March 13, 2015
On Sunday, March 8, Habitat for Humanity Williamson-Maury (HFHWM) dedicated its 15th Habitat High home to Dede Murray and her toddler son, Angel. Built and sponsored by local high schools through the Habitat High program, this new, energy-efficient residence is located on Beechcroft Road in Spring Hill.
Over the five cold weekends, Dede has worked alongside over 600 students from Brentwood, Centennial, Currey Ingram Academy, Fairview, Franklin, Independence, Ravenwood, and Summit High Schools.
The $70,000 needed for the build was funded through several projects undertaken by the Habitat High clubs at each school and through the generous donations of community sponsors Lasko Products, Inc., Peace Lutheran Church, and Grace Episcopal Church. The home also received financing and/or funding from the Tennessee Housing Development Agency. After the dedication, Habitat for Humanity Williamson-Maury sold the home to Murray at cost and with a zero-interest mortgage.
Despite the extreme weather over the month, the Murray’s home remained on schedule thanks to the hard-working students. “I can’t describe properly the energy the students have given to Dede’s home,” explains HFHWM Volunteer Coordinator Katie Gilliam. “They bring open eagerness to a project that has them waking up at early hours, working through freezing cold conditions, and trying new and difficult skills – all to help a local family. The students’ positivity and passion are an example to the entire community. It is truly remarkable to watch and help facilitate and has been a highlight of my experience as the volunteer coordinator to see them shine as they serve.”
Alex Ryan, a senior at Independence High School, has been involved in Habitat High since she was a freshman. “I started participating in Habitat because I really wanted a way to volunteer and know I was making a difference,” she notes. “I have learned so much. On each of the builds, it may have seemed
like every job I was doing was small, but each task was essential to the house being completed. I think that was actually a great metaphor for what happens in life: when accomplishing the smaller jobs, it helps us view the bigger picture.”
Dede is a child-care provider for a local daycare and spent the last several years working with Williamson County Schools as a teacher’s assistant. When she is not working or taking care of her toddler (Angel Josiah Murray-Santana), she enjoys attending church at Strong Tower Bible Church in Nashville. She is also a past Habitat High volunteer and helped build several homes on Helping Hands Drive in Franklin. Little did she know a decade ago that the tables would someday be turned. “It is amazing how things come full circle. I can’t believe such kindness has been returned to me. The high school students have been amazing, and Habitat has completely been a blessing.”