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Habitat for Humanity celebrates leaving a legacy

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Rutherford County Habitat for Humanity Vice President Ann Hoke presents the Impact and Legacy Award to Richard Luneack. CAT MURPHY

Habitat for Humanity's annual Leave a Legacy Breakfast drew more than 200 people Friday morning.

Folks enjoyed a hearty breakfast as they heard songs and stories of how lives had been impacted by the nonprofit's life-changing work.

"I love the Habitat program for strengthening me. I can do anything," said Kathy Dezurn in a video testimony, filmed in front of her home.

Michelle Bell sang "One Moment in Time" during breakfast, and fellow homeowner Francis Burton performed an original song about her experience while the Habitat team clapped along beside her. "I want to thank God for Habitat for Humanity, and all of the blessings that he's given to me," she belted.

For Ayla Campbell, Habitat for Humanity went above and beyond, even after her home was finished. Within the span of a year, Campbell lost her sight when her retina in one eye, then the other, detached.

"They immediately rushed me to surgery, but they caught the tear too late. Less than a year later, the other eye detached," said Campbell. "That had me in kind of a dark place for a while, because I didn't know what to do... but Habitat stepped in."

Her loss of vision made her previous work as a phlebotomist impossible, so Habitat for Humanity helped her set up an answering service.

"That was the beginning of Sure Touch, which helped me to stay self-reliant."

It also helped her pay off her home in full. In December 2015 she made her last payment, and now Campbell owns her home outright. "I called it my Christmas present to me."

Habitat for Humanity homeowners are not given free houses. They put in hundreds of hours of "sweat equity" working on their own homes and other people's, and pay a mortgage. The average Habitat house payment is $480.

"We strive to help as many families as we possibly can," said Chris Jackson, board secretary. "There's no way we can do this alone. We really need your help."

This year more than 120 people have applied for the Habitat program in Rutherford County. Only 10 can be served.

For more information about Rutherford County Habitat for Humanity, to volunteer on a build or to give financially, visit www.rchfh.org.

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