On November 12, 2013 volunteers, donors, friends and family gathered for a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony and tour a 6 bedroom duplex built as part of the Labor of Love Project. The walk-through was carried live during the 4 p.m. hour on WBIR.
Labor of Love is a joint project between WBIR Channel 10, The Home Builders Association of Greater Knoxville, and the Knoxville Area Association of Realtors. Sertoma Center has served adult clients with intellectual disabilities since 1961.
After the tour, the home underwent a few tweaks to get ready for the six adults to move in. They became residents in December 2013.
"They really enjoy living it and both sides of the duplex," said Becky Massey, Director of Sertoma Center. "You just ask them and they get a big smile on their face so it's neat and you get an even bigger smile from the staff."
The duplex is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. House manger Tracey Turner appreciates the fact that the home was built with the residents in mind.
The accessibility to the showers, with some that use canes some are in wheelchairs big enough to get the wheelchairs in the door. We had that problem, there were times we couldn't maneuver a wheelchair through a hallway in a house so I like the fact that it's roomy and spacious for them," said Turner.
Massey and Sertoma Center staff and board members decorated the home and added personal items in each of the resident's rooms to make them feel at home.
"There's food in the refrigerators and there are dishes here so it is livable now," said Massey. "We have pictures hanging on the walls. They brought their things in, their pictures and the things they like to have. It was a house before and it's a home now."
For the residents' loved one, the duplex is much more than just a place to live.
"For me, it's peace of mind knowing that Gina has a place," said Gina's mother, Jenny. "A home of her own, friends and people that care about her. "It's so beautiful! I mean, I couldn't ask for anything more. Everything is ready for her and built for her to be usable with a wheelchair. The house was built in love and that's what makes it so special."
After months of hard work by countless volunteers and donors, residents and staff of the Sertoma Duplex are looking forward to their first Christmas morning in the home.
"The folks really enjoy Christmas, we do a wish list for our folks because a lot of our individuals have no families to buy for them but just with this home, " said Massey.
"I'm kind of excited for them for Christmas because I want to see what their response is when they open up their gifts on Christmas morning being in a new house," added Turner. "I think that's going to be special for them."
Becky Massey says the duplex is the biggest thing to happen to Sertoma Center in it's 52 year history.
"It's a year I will always remember and treasure every time I was out here working with everybody and the new friends that I made."
Up next for Sertoma Center: renovating another group home duplex for clients who need around-the-clock medical care. If you would like to learn more about Sertoma Center, visit the organization's website.