Habitat for Humanity and Germantown church build 45th home

Germantown United Methodist Church and Habitat for Humanity's longstanding partnership has resulted in the construction of 45 homes for families over the past 32 years.

“We partner with many churches around the area, but I have to say our relationship with GUMC is very unique,” said Dwayne Spencer, Habitat president and CEO. “GUMC is our longest-standing partner and has worked with us to build more homes than with any other partner, corporate or faith-related.”

The 45th home built under the partnership is being dedicated to Janet Milewski, who was a coordinator at the church from 1989 to 1999. She passed away last year. The home is currently under construction in the Oakhaven neighborhood in South Memphis near the Memphis International Airport.

"Janet was an incredible leader, and she always believed that the Lord would provide as we kept working towards our goals,” said Doug Warner, longtime Habitat volunteer and advocate through Germantown United Methodist Church who knew Janet Milewski well. “Now we’re recognizing all that she did for all of us at Germantown Methodist and obviously for Habitat as well.”

The 1,700-square-foot, four-bedroom home will be completed in early November. The home buyer and Habitat volunteers help to construct the home.

“So much of solidifying Habitat as an affiliate here in Memphis started with Doug Warner and GUMC and was followed up by Janet and her husband, Bob, to get us where we are today,” said Spencer, who estimates that Habitat has assisted nearly 1,000 local families through home building and aging in place services. “We owe them a huge debt of gratitude.”

Habitat trains home buyers in financial literacy to prepare them for home ownership, and the buyer receives an interest-free, 30-year mortgage.

“It’s been a wonderful ministry for Germantown Methodist, and it’s meant so much to us as a church family to be able to do something like this on an ongoing basis,” said Warner. “It’s attracted people to our church. We’ve had people join our church because we have a ministry like Habitat that we offer to people to get involved with.”

He estimated that nearly 1,500 church members have been involved over time.

This year Habitat has built 10 homes in the Memphis area, and next year for Habitat’s 35th anniversary there are plans for 30 more homes thanks partially to New Market tax credits, which are designed to spur investment in communities that are struggling.

“It’s easy for us to qualify for New Market tax credits because we’re building in communities where builders aren’t going,” said Spencer.

Read more articles by Michael Waddell.

Michael Waddell is a native Memphian who returned to Memphis several years ago after working for nearly a decade in San Diego and St. Petersburg, Fla., as a writer, editor and graphic designer. His work over the past few years has been featured in The Memphis Daily News, Memphis Bioworks Magazine, Memphis Crossroads, the New York Daily News and the New York Post. Contact Michael.
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