An American dream comes true for Johnson City family

By Jennifer Lassiter
star staff

   GRAY -- The Prokhnevskiy family will have something to be thankful for this November as they're hanging their coats in their newly built home on 259 Cedar Lane.
  Habitat for Humanity, a world wide grassroots movement, and Northeast Tennessee Association of Realtors (NETAR) partnered to bring the Prokhnevskiy's the American dream ... their own home. The formal ground breaking at the new home site on Friday was a time for celebration and praise.
  The homeowners, originally from the Ukraine, have lived in Johnson City for five years. They, like many people within the region, fit the requirements set forth by Habitat for Humanity to qualify for a home.
  "A friend asked me if I was excited; I told her 'I'm nervous because it feels like I'm getting married all over again' " , said Nina Prokhnevskiy. The couple are no strangers to Habitat for Humanity. Just last year their parents also received a home through the organization.
  NETAR, comprised of 900 members, raised $21,000 through fundraising events, auctions and donations to build their first home as an association. NETAR President Karen Randolph said 21 firms joined in the effort.
  "We've had good success in fundraising; we've donated $25,000 over the last four years to Habitat for Humanity, but this is the first time we're actually building a home," said Randolph.
  Leah Miller Chapin, a Realtor with Remax, donated what some women call their best friend to help with the construction of the home. Chapin donated a diamond ring that she says she just kept in a safety deposit box. "It was just sitting in there, and I figured I could put it to good use," said Chapin. The ring is now on Ebay. According to Chapin, bids are up to approximately $7,800 already.
  Holston Habitat for Humanity President, Jerry Johnson was on site to greet the family and answer questions. "Habitat for Humanity is a hands up, not a hands out", said Johnson. "They are required to work 500 hours and are required to carry the loan."
  Johnson stressed that Habitat is not a "giveaway" program. "Homeowners are expected to pay the usual monthly mortgage payments and down payment," said Johnson.
  According to Johnson, all habitat homes are purchased by the homeowner families. Three factors make the houses affordable to low-income people worldwide:
  * Houses are sold at no profit, with no interest charged on the mortgage.
  * Homeowners and volunteers build the houses under trained supervision.
  * Individuals, corporations, faith groups and others provide financial support.
  Homeowner families are chosen according to their need; their ability to repay the no-profit, no-interest mortgage, and their willingness to work in partnership with Habitat.
  Habitat for Humanity International is a nonprofit, nondenominational Christian housing organization. Through volunteer labor and donation of money and materials, Habitat builds and rehabilitates simple, decent houses with the help of the homeowner families.
  Since 1976, Habitat has built more than 175,000 homes and provided shelter for nearly 900,000 people worldwide. Habitat is now at work in 100 countries building a house every 26 minutes. By 2005, Habitat houses will be sheltering 1 million people.