Mayor Andy Berke and city employees volunteered recently with Habitat for Humanity to complete a home built for one of their own.
Employee Sidney McDonald is the first person anyone sees when walking into City Hall.
He has been employed with the City of Chattanooga for more than three years, and this past Saturday his co-workers and other volunteers put some of the final touches on his two-bedroom wheelchair accessible home.
“First, we tried to level out the area around the house [and] make sure it’s prime for landscaping,” Berke said. “Mostly, after that, I’ve been laying sod, but also people have been putting in mulch and shrubs. The dedication is next week so we’re in the final stages of getting the house ready.”
In addition to working as the first face that greets City Hall visitors, McDonald also takes tickets at the local movie theater.
“A lot of people in Chattanooga know Sidney,” Habitat CEO David Butler said. “This is about the third house that we’ve built for people in wheelchairs. Normally we don’t do custom houses, but for Sidney, we’ll do just about anything.”
The home has two-bedrooms and two-bathroom and is specialized to accommodate McDonald. The entire home is wheelchair accessible and was designed with McDonald’s needs in mind.
“I’m very grateful to have a Habitat house,” McDonald said. “It’s much bigger and I’m going to enjoy the special accommodations.”
The cabinets are lower so he can reach them from his wheelchair. There’s a roll-in shower for him and there are video cameras to help McDonald easily see who is at the front door, Butler said.
Habitat by a Habitat staff member named Cayce Williams encouraged McDonald to apply for the home. It took him several months to mull things over before he eventually completed the application in April 2016. He became an official Habitat Partner Family in June 2016.
“It’s been tough but anything worth having is going to be tough,” McDonald said. “It was well worth the effort to end up with a brand-new house.”
This house marks the 11th Habitat home built in Alton Park. There are also three other homes currently under construction in the village. Habitat has a grant in to buy the rest of the lots in the area, which would give spacing for more than 20 more houses. They intend to completely finish off the villages of Alton Park.
“We want people to have choices,” Berke said. “Whether that’s living in an apartment or living in their own home, Habitat not only helps people living in their own home, they make sure that it’s sustainable for them.”
— Andy Berke (@AndyBerke) February 24, 2018
38 started great with some work at our friend Sidney’s new house. Thanks to Habitat for Humanity of Greater Chattanooga Area for the opportunity! 🏡 pic.twitter.com/Nau7WGSODl
— Kerry Hayes (@TennKerry) February 24, 2018
Helping people like Sidney build strength, stability, and self-reliance is what we do. It has been our honor to help him on his journey to homeownership. https://t.co/MZTgj5fC0R
— Habitat Chattanooga (@habichatt) February 24, 2018
Kyle Yager is a contributing writer. He currently attends UTC, where he is the sports editor for the student newspaper, The University Echo. He has also worked as a scouting intern for the UTC football team and currently works as a runner at Grant, Konvalinka & Harrison PC. Kyle intends to attend law school in the fall. You can reach Kyle at [email protected]