Local Veteran getting first house through Habitat for Humanity

Knoxville Habitat for Humanity

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- For more than 25 years, the Habitat for Humanity has built hundreds of homes in the Knoxville area. It kicks off a new neighborhood this weekend, but this time Habitat wanted to make sure a local hero can finally call a place home.

He is a Knoxville native, a Marine Corp Veteran, and soon he can also call himself a homeowner.

7 houses in 7 days, that's what Habitat for Humanity wants to build, and Michael Gates is excited for this next chapter in his life.

Thursday he takes in the peaceful view, on a beautiful day, but it's not his view. "I've never owned a home. I'm 63, I've never owned a home," Michael said.

Gates is staying at a friend's house, but he has always dreamed of owning a home.

And, now hundreds will pitch in to help make that happen, because he served his country.

"Back then there was so much disagreement in this country about Vietnam, it's like when you were a veteran it's like you were a stigma," Michael said. Because, during the Vietnam War, much of country was against the war, and he never felt appreciated.

Michael finally has the opportunity to become a homeowner, what is just a slab of concrete on Skyline Drive in East Knox County right now, is actually the foundation of his future.

The Habitat for Humanity will build 7 homes, and hundreds of volunteers will be by Michael's side.

Michael said, "Physically I couldn't do it myself today, but to have all these people come, you know it doesn't seem impossible now."

And, he won't be the only Veteran at the blitz build. "What better way than to have a bunch of Veteran business owners come and help him build his house," said Jonathan Williams, the Chairman of the Tennessee Veterans Business Association.

Williams helped organize more than a hundred veterans and active duty members of the armed service to help Michael into his first house.

Michael said, "So I figure if we've got too many on one house, we'll go over and help on another, so we're already coming together as a community."

And, he is going to put all his energy into building his first house, "And not just the building of the house, but just the building of the community, and being a good neighbor and coming together and helping each other from here on out," Michael said.

The Habitat for Humanity says they have enough volunteers for this build, but there are other ways you can help the organization and their efforts.


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