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Johnson City couple receives disability friendly Habitat home

Charles Hollowell (far left) and Michelle Bernard (far right) pray after receiving the keys to their new home. (Thomas Gray/WCYB)

A Johnson City couple tearfully received a new home Saturday.

Volunteers with Holston Habitat for Humanity handed them the keys and welcomed them inside. After applying for a home more than a year ago, Charles Hollowell and Michelle Bernard are now homeowners.

"I'm very happy,” Hollowell said.

"Words cannot explain it,” Bernard said. “I'm just ecstatic."

Hollowell has trouble walking since he suffered a stroke several years ago.

"We've got wider doors,” Bernard said. “The driveway comes all the way up to the backdoor. There's only one step leading up to the front porch. There are handrails."

Volunteers gathered for a ceremony of prayer and celebration as they handed over the keys to the new owners.

"I really wanted to scream and jump up and down and dance,” Bernard said. “There wasn't enough room because there were so many people that came out today."

The couple had to work for the house.

"We did a total of 500 volunteer hours," Bernard said.

"Once their application is approved, they then do half of their sweat equity hours,” Community Outreach Coordinator Trish Patterson said. “That includes education classes. They go through five months of education on how to be a homeowner."

Hollowell and Bernard plan to move in soon and celebrate with a cookout.

"In our backyard that we've never had before," Bernard said.

The homeowners will pay back the cost of the house with no interest added.

If you would like to learn more about Holston Habitat for Humanity, you can visit their website.

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