TOP PHOTO: TCAT and Habitat for Humanity teamed to build this home for the Douglas family; a first for the two entities.

Habitat President Zach Sheets helps stretch the ribbon on Tonya Douglas’ new home. Tonya’s son, Derrick, and daughter, Keerstin, look on.

By Charlotte Underwood 

LAFOLLETTE, TN (WLAF) – Jacksboro Tennessee College of Applied Technology students are gaining valuable on site experience while building for Habitat for Humanity. According to both organizations, it’s a “true win-win situation” for the community and students alike. Students gain first hand experience in their trade, as well as learning how it feels to “give something back” to the community. 

(Left to right) Keerstin, Derrick and Tonya Douglas in their new home. “This has been a long time coming,” said Tonya with a big smile of appreciation.

The collaboration between Habitat for Humanity and TCAT resulted in its first completed house for the Douglas family. Tanya, Keerstin and Derrick Douglas cut the ribbon on their new East Fir Street home in LaFollette on July 21st. 

Building Construction students, as well as electrical and HVAC students participated in the build process. 

In total, about 38 TCAT students helped on the construction build, electrical wiring and HVAC installation. The TCAT Building Construction Technology instructor for the build was Chris Goodman. Mike Harmon was the HVAC instructor, while Donnie Lindsay and Dawson May were the electrical instructors for students on the build. 

Tennessee College of Applied Technology President Debbie Petree said she couldn’t say enough about the positives of the partnership, the instructors and the students.

“It’s an amazing opportunity for our students to gain the experience they need to progress their careers and it’s great for the community as well,” Petree said.

Local Habitat for Humanity board president Zach Sheets said the partnership was an example of a “true win-win for all involved” and that it helped cut costs immensely on the home build, which helps the homeowner out with a lower mortgage. 

“The students get the real life experience of building a home while giving back to the community. It’s something great they can put on their resume. No materials get wasted on training on the college’s side, and it’s just a great partnership for us to have such well trained volunteers on our builds; we couldn’t be more appreciative for this help from the school,” Sheets said. 

The Building Construction program at TCAT began after the college recieved Appalachian Regional Commission grant funds to expand opportunities in the county. 

TCAT used its portion of the grant money to start the building Construction program which was up and running by 2020 with a small class. The program is expected to grow this year.

“We thought how can we give our students an A to Z hands on approach at learning skills in a residential construction setting and after talking with Zach Sheets with Habitat about our program and how it would also be a wonderful learning opportunity for students to gain skills in their field while also learning about giving back to the community, we were able to establish this partnership, ” Petree said.  

TCAT students will be assisting with the next Habitat build as well. The land is currently being prepared for that build and permits are being put in place, according to Sheets, who said he was excited TCAT would be helping with the upcoming build.

“In a small community like ours these kinds of partnerships make all the difference. This collaboration with TCAT is a game changer for us, and we’re so thankful,” Sheets said.

Petree said she was appreciative of the community partnerships and collaborations and looked forward to more to come, both with Habitat and other organizations in the county.

“These partnerships not only provide skills to students, they also teach about giving back to their community and that makes them better citizens as they enter the workforce,” Petree said. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 08/11/2022-6AM)