Terri Schultz of Habitat Recognized With Trailblazer Award For Helping Women Become Homeowners

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Terri Schultz, Executive Director of Rutherford County Habitat for Humanity (RCHFH) was one of six individuals who recently won a Trailblazer Award presented by Maigan Wipfli director of the June Anderson Center for Women and Nontraditional Students at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU). The award lauded these recipients for their pioneering efforts to aid women. Nominees for the award come from the greater Murfreesboro community, and the final recipients are voted on by faculty, students, and staff. This year the theme was “Providing Healing, Promoting Hope.”

According to an article on the Center’s website, Schultz “was praised for helping families remain strong and hopeful, even as housing prices rise.”

“I’m so honored that I have been recognized for the work that not only I’m doing, but that Habitat’s doing, in the community and the fact that my peers find that what I’m doing supports women in making sure that they’re able to become first-time homebuyers,” Schultz said in the article. 

Several women are now homeowners or will soon be homeowners at Legacy Point, RCHFH’s new subdivision that is located off Halls Hill Pike not far from MTSU. Two of these women participated in builds with the local Rotary clubs to frame the walls of their homes. They are Makeitha Davis and Alexandria Tyler. Davis moved into the second house built in the development and Tyler’s home is currently under construction. Davis’ house was Nissan North America’s 2019 sponsored build. 

When Davis came to RCHFH, she was quiet and shy, but now she is a vibrant member of the Habitat family. In photos of her panel build, she can be seen beaming as she works side-by-side with community volunteers. She is a single mother who shares that her daughter, Alaina, is very excited to have her own bedroom, which she plans to decorate with unicorns and Legos covered in glitter. Her daughter is the center of her world, and her reason for going after her dream of homeownership. 

“Once approved,” explained Shultz, “future homeowners start their Homeowner Education Program. It usually takes nine to twelve months to go through the program.”

Habitat’s Homeowner Education Classes are something many could use before buying a first home. By the time applicants are done, they are prepared to tackle the financial, legal, and maintenance matters tied to homeownership. 

“It has been a good process for me,” said Davis. “Budgeting on a limited income has been the biggest lesson. I never knew how hard it was to stay on a budget.”

Tyler and family worked side by side with Rotarians earlier this year on the frame of her home-to-be, and saw it hit the ground a few days later. Habitat requires that those that buy their zero-interest loan homes complete 300-400 hours of sweat equity. It is not for everyone, but those who participate feel empowered and become part of a fraternity. And with affordable housing development at Legacy Point, they will be part of a community. The community will represent the very essence of Habitat, a community of homes being built by the community. It will eventually contain 77 homes. 

Nationally, the home shortage and the rising cost of building a home is making Habitat’s mission that much harder to accomplish, but Schultz and her team remain positive in spite of the setbacks the organization has suffered locally and nationally, including the decrease in volunteers due to the pandemic, the temporary closing of their ReStore during the same time, and both the explosion in the cost of materials and supply chain kinks. 

“Lumber prices, according to the National Association of Home Builders, increased by more than 300% since April 2020. Demand for new homes, as well as demand for supplies for renovation projects and other factors, also kept costs high, experts say. Prices have come down in recent weeks, but they are still significantly higher than before the pandemic,” says an article at abcnews.com.

Regardless of all of the mountains that the pandemic has thrown out in front of her, Schultz is determined to keep moving the organization forward so women like Davis and Tyler can fulfill their dreams of homeownership. Which is why she won the award.

Founded in 1989, RCHFH is a non-profit, non-denominational Christian ministry that partners with volunteers and corporations to build affordable housing. The homebuyer, RCHFH construction staff, and volunteers do all of the construction of the home. Once completed, the buyer purchases the home with an affordable monthly mortgage with no interest and no profit from Habitat.

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