Five Southern Adventist University employees, along with 70 other volunteers, are building a house for Marvin and Willie Quinn, a couple who lost their Apison, Tennessee home to the April 27 tornado.
The 1,200-square-foot house will be larger than their previous home and will include a garage and crawl space. Fred Turner, corporate architect at Southern Adventist University, designed the floor plan with the help of Southern’s Computer-Aided Design operator, Danielle Filipov.
“It’s a blessing,” says Willie, who built her previous home herself 42 years ago. “We’re not able to do this kind of stuff anymore. I don't know how to thank everyone for what they’ve done and what they’re doing.”
Marvin and Willie Quinn have had a lot of misfortune the past few years. First, they lost a daughter to cancer. Then, their son and daughter-in-law, Ralph and Tammy, lost their Apison home to a fire. Shortly after, Ralph suffered a heart attack and Tammy was in two car accidents. With all the heartache the couple had suffered, it was especially devastating to them when they lost their own home.
After Turner’s wife told him about the Quinns, he met Don Riddle, an electrician and lifelong friend of the Quinns. Both wanted to help the couple, so they decided to work on the new home together. Turner shared his floor plan and Riddle took lead on the project.
“[The Southern employees] have been super,” says Riddle. “They’ve even helped in my home. They’re one of the best organizations to work with.”
Other Southern employees who are helping include Eric Schoonard, associate director of Plant Services, Doug Walter, alarm systems manager for Campus Safety, and John Youngberg, associate professor in the Technology Department.
“This is kind of like one of those Extreme Makeover things where everyone just comes together for a common cause,” says Turner.
The Quinn family is currently staying in an acquaintance’s residence in Benton. If their temporary residence does not work out, there are plans to move into a trailer by the building site. Nevertheless, Marvin and Willie are thankful for all the help they’ve received.
“What’s touching about this story is that they’re still very positive,” says Samantha, Walter’s wife. “For us it’s been a blessing to work with these people. They’re just precious.”
Donations for the Quinn house have come from FEMA, the Home Builders Association, and area churches. Ooltewah Seventh-day Adventist Church donated all the appliances for the project.