When the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) adopted Habitat for Humanity last year for its annual charitable campaign, TTI employees knew they would be helping a family in need. That certainly happened, but no one knew the profound impact their involvement would have on . . . themselves.
On June 20, TTI’s Executive Associate Director Bill Stockton handed over the house keys to a “too moved to speak” Jennifer Whittine, who relocated to Bryan with her family when her Louisiana home was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.
About 40 employees had worked on the Whittine home while it was under construction. The Institute also raised $8,800 for the Bryan-College Station Habitat effort. (Similarly, employees in each of TTI’s urban offices helped their local Habitat for Humanity programs). Employees also donated pantry items, which were placed inside the Whittine home prior to the ceremony, completely filling the pantry and much of the cabinet space.
Partly, Saturday’s Habitat for Humanity’s home dedication was designed to thank the numerous businesses and volunteers who had a role in building the new home. It was move-in day, and the Whittines would finally have a home of their own; largely built with the compassion of a community.
As Jennifer Whittine headed to the microphone, only a few phrases could be understood through the sobs and the tears. “…truly overjoyed” and “…blessing to be a homeowner.” One of her daughters was able to take over. “Thank you for all you have done for us, it is truly a blessing.”
The outpouring of appreciation had many in the crowd wiping away tears, too.
“Based on what we’ve seen today, I really think Habitat for Humanity will be a part of TTI from now on in some way or another,” Stockton said. “It’s been a blessing for us to be involved in this.”
“In her remarks, Jennifer Whittine talked about blessings and how Habitat has changed her life,” said Melissa Tooley, co-chair of the TTI committee overseeing the project. “To be honest, those of us who participated in the dedication ceremony were blessed every bit as much just to be a part of it. I am so proud and grateful to be a part of an organization that makes such a difference within our community.”