Volunteers needed to help rebuild veteran's home in Gatlinburg


Jottie Hand, like hundreds of Gatlinburg residents, lost his home in November's deadly wildfires. Less than two months later, a man he had known less than a year said he was going to volunteer rebuild his home.

"I don't think it really sunk in," volunteer builder J.R. Hahn told NBC affiliate WBIR in Knoxville. "I just wanted to give him something back even though they lost everything and a lot of things you cannot replace."

Hahn and Hand's friendship started at Chapel at the Park. Hand was working when Hahn married last June.

"For him to volunteer to come down here and do this has been a blessing," Hand said.

Hahn is a former contractor. Hand is an Air Force veteran. Together, with a few friends, they have rebuilt much of Hand's house from the ground up.

"If this whole thing would've started and went the way I wanted it to -- right from the beginning -- with the people that I knew was going to come down and do this thing, I would've had this house done by now," Hahn said.

Word spread of the volunteer project on social media, and Hahn says several people have called him and said they would help. Until this weekend, no one lived up to their word.

"It does get disheartening sometimes when you get a contact and then it doesn't show," Hahn said. "Sometimes I do get irritated because I feel if you say you're going to do something, follow through and do it. I'd rather you tell me you don't have time to do it than say you're going to come then you don't show up."

Despite volunteers not showing up, Hahn says the project is rewarding.

"Everybody that I've met that's come to help in some fashion is just incredibly amazing people," Hahn said. "This whole thing is God's timing, and that's just the way I've got to keep looking at it."

Hahn hopes to complete the home in the next three to four weeks, but when Hand's house is done, there are plenty of projects left to complete.

"There's other people here that I've talked to that need help. There're some neighbors down back over the hill. One of his neighbors up here is trying to rebuild," Hahn said. "I'll help him any way I can."

Anyone wanting to help with the project can contact Hahn at

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