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VIProfile: Terri Shultz

By Lee Rennick

Terri Shultz discovered her love for Habitat for Humanity when she was building her own home. At the same time, she was just getting involved with the organization and on her first build through Junior League. She realized she got more joy from volunteering on the Habitat build than building her dream home.

“[My] joy was directly related to how much that Habitat home meant to the future homeowner,” said Shultz. “I realized this was her dream home and I was helping her make that dream come true!”

Shultz had been working with the organization for about seven and a half years when she became the second Executive Director in 2014. She has seen many changes in the organization during her tenure, including breaking ground this year on the first housing development completely for Habitat homes, Legacy Point.

Habitat for Humanity began in Rutherford County in 1989 by a dedicated group of volunteers and churches that operated for some time building two to three houses a year. The Rutherford affiliate is now the fourth largest Habitat home builder in Tennessee, averaging eight to nine a year. And while it is tied to Habitat for Humanity International, it runs independently.

“With the development of our Legacy Pointe community,” said Shultz,” we will be able to provide consistent affordable housing opportunities. As our community grows, so does the need for affordable housing. We are actively trying to find new, innovative ways to increase building capacity.” They will be able to build 77 homes on the Legacy Point location.

With the rising costs of building materials, the organization needs more community partnership with suppliers and subcontractors who can provide Habitat with cost-effective pricing. This will ensure Habitat is able to sustain their affordable housing ministry for many years to come.

Currently, Shultz says the organization needs two major items, land in Smyrna and/or LaVergne so they can serve residents who live in the northern part of the county and more individual donors and sponsors for home builds so they will be able to meet the increasing need for economical housing in Rutherford County. Over the years many organizations and businesses have funded homes, including Nissan, Bridgestone, Schneider Electric, Pinnacle Financial Partners and The Daily News Journal.

“It may seem that a small donation of $20 couldn’t make an impact in our ability to build another home,” said Shultz, “but it can. Every dollar can be leveraged three times and that can make a lasting impact on our ability to build more.”

Besides building homes, the organization runs the Habitat ReStore as their daily fundraiser. Started in October of 2003, in the store they sell new and used building and remodeling supplies -- all donated by builders, area vendors and individuals. Shultz says it is a great place to find home repair items, thrifty home finishes and great vintage pieces.

Proceeds pay for administrative expenses, which allows donor dollars to go directly towards home construction. Cookin’ to Building is their best-known fundraiser. And while many non profits had to cancel fundraisers in 2020, Habitat actually didn’t need to change much as it is an outdoor event.

“To adapt for COVID-19,” said Shultz, “we had all participating cook teams wear masks, temperature tested all volunteers, added tasting cups and removed the communal eating table. Everything else was the same and we were blessed to have another successful event!”

COVID-19 has also not effected the majority of their homeowners, they have been able to fair well during the epidemic due to their financial education, affordable mortgages and having Habitat there to provide them with additional guidance and methods to keep their mortgages current.

The commitment of their partner families is not light, but their homeowners will tell anyone that it is worth it. The incoming mortgage payments from all of their partner families help make it possible for other families to realize their long-awaited dreams of homeownership.

Shultz never realized how much of an effect a presentation to Junior League in the mid-2000s by then Habitat Executive Director Beth Smith would have on her. “Coming from a construction background,” said Shultz, “I was instantly interested in this organization.” Her husband, Rick, whom she has been married to for 28 years, has had his own framing subcontracting business for more than 30 years. They lived in Memphis, Atlanta and Houston before moving back to Rutherford County, where Shultz was born. She is a graduate of Smyrna High School and Middle Tennessee State University. Her daughter, Logan and son, Ryan, are both graduates of Siegel High School. Logan is a graduate of the University of Tennessee Knoxville, and Ryan is a graduate of Trevecca Nazarene University.

Three accomplishments Shultz is most proud of during her tenure as Executive Director of Habitat Rutherford is being recognized personally as the Affiliate Leader of the Year, for her team it was being recognized as State Affiliate of the Year and for the community it was the development of Legacy Pointe.

But Shultz doesn’t rest on her laurels. She is always looking for the next opportunity to expand the reach of Habitat in the community. “Whether it be trying to expand our build capacity, growing our ReStore, providing more financial education, or offering hands-on job training,” said Shultz, “we are always looking for ways to serve more people.”

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