When Carter County’s Ronda Paulson, former cheer and dance coach at Milligan College, realized that traumatized kids in the state of Tennessee have to sit in the sterile, cold DCS office for hours while they await a foster family to pick them up, she felt a strong burden to do something about it.
From June to August 2017, Ronda and her husband, Corey, worked with the local community to raise $75,000 to launch a nonprofit named Isaiah 117 House and purchase a residential building to provide a home for these transitioning children.
Amazingly, the $75k was raised in 30 days and the Isaiah 117 House was purchased in September of 2017. The home serves Carter, Johnson, and Unicoi Counties.
However, the dilapidated condition of the 4-bedroom house made it uninhabitable and required serious renovations, top to bottom. Paulson resolved to put one foot in front of the other and began asking for help. She reached out to Mitch Cox Construction’s Daniel Lewis and Travis Royston to make some initial adjustments to the doors and floors. But the MCC team didn’t feel good about simply “putting a band-aid” on anything.
“When I realized we’d have to tear out a lot more, I asked our network of vendors to help us out,” said Lewis.
From Lewis’s request, an outpouring of the business community’s generosity snowballed.
A team of subcontractors and vendors gave their time and resources and gutted the house down to the framing and studs. They replaced everything: New plumbing, new wiring, new sheetrock, new flooring, new light fixtures, new whirlpool, full kitchen appliances, new cabinetry, kitchen countertops, new paint, new stairs, new fences, new windows, new asphalt, and a new playground.
Today, the house is brand new, and the work was finished in time for the Isaiah 117 House ribbon-cutting on June 15, 2018.
The Isaiah 117 House can serve 10-12 children at one time. Paulson received her first child on Thursday, June 21. The child stayed from noon to 6 p.m.
“The child didn’t want to leave her caretaker and was crying,” said Paulson. “But instead of taking the child to an office cubicle, we said enthusiastically, ‘Did you know we get to go to a house with a playground, and books, and bubbles, and snacks, and…’ the child’s tears stopped and soon she was having a great time coloring and playing.”
View the Before/After Photos in this Slideshow
The following list of organizations donated their products and services, totaling $90,000:
- ABC Supply
- All Seasons Insulation
- American Plumbing
- Appalachian Gypsum
- Bracken Paving
- Blue Water Industries
- Builders FirstSource
- Cannon’s Furniture
- City Electric
- Cline Holder Electric Supply
- Efrain Oviedo
- Ferguson Enterprises
- Gary Zan Brown
- Green-Up Lawn and Landscaping
- Kitchens By Design
- K & K Electric
- Keller Williams
- Mid Atlantic Roofing Supply
- Power Siders Plus
- REIK Construction
- Tri-Cities Construction Services
Isaiah 117 House Founder’s Words of Gratitude
To these organizations, Paulson said she is forever indebted. “They are the reason that this dream has become a reality. They are the hands of this miracle. Our initial plan was to have youth groups, rotary groups, and church groups help as they could. I don’t even know where we’d be right now if we had mission groups helping us. But we had professionals come in and rapidly produce this gorgeous home. Now we can open up our doors and start loving on children right away. It’s been a miracle to think that one year ago all of this was just a Facebook post. Thanks to these incredible professionals, our budget is freed up to take care of children and we are already starting to look for another home in Washington County.”