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An ‘impossible’ dream made possible


Koffi and Tonya help break ground on their new home’s build site.

For Tonya Harper, her husband Koffi Kouassi and their children, their home’s blitz day was a long time in coming.

”A long time ago we prayed for a house,” Tonya says. “But the downpayment and the amount we would have had to pay each month—we couldn’t do it.”

It was a disappointing roadblock, one that weighed on Koffi and Tonya because it meant that their family would have to remain in close rented quarters and that a much-desired feeling of ownership would be put off indefinitely. It was a barrier that many of low income meet each day—except that Koffi and Tonya have found a way around it.

Volunteers, staff and sponsors have all played a role in helping build the house on South Chestnut Street. When the walls went up Saturday morning, Koffi and Tonya were supported by fellow Knoxville residents, Habitat leadership and volunteers from partner organizations like Whirlpool and Thrivent. By lunchtime on that first day of building, their five-bedroom home was already starting to look like just that—a home. By end of day, interior walls were up, the roof was decked, and windows had even been installed.

The blitz day served to remind those present that the blessings of the Lord may be long in coming, even to the faithful, but they are far from small. Habitat and the Kouassi-Harper family have this knowledge in common, so they are fitting partners for a milestone that some might have thought an unattainable goal when it was dreamed up thirty years ago.

”We’re a long way from the beginning,” says Marty Brown, President of Knoxville Habitat’s board of directors. “But there’s no end in sight.”

This 200,000th house is cause for celebration—for Koffi and Tonya, for their children, and for Habitat, which Knox County has honored with its own special “Habitat for Humanity Day.” It is a commemoration both of Koffi’s and Tonya’s blitz day and of the commitment Habitat has to continue breathing life and pride back into neighborhoods like Knoxville’s Five Points.

For this family, though, it is about answered prayers, about a day that was a long time coming.

”Thank you,” Tonya says. “For making an impossible dream possible!”