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Nonprofit organization, local Mayfield contractors present families with tiny homes

Lt. Gov Jacqueline Coleman spoke at the Associated General Contractors event in Mayfield where families were presented with tiny homes to be used as temporary housing for those displaced by the December tornado outbreak.
Lily Burris
Lt. Gov Jacqueline Coleman spoke at the Associated General Contractors event in Mayfield where families were presented with tiny homes to be used as temporary housing for those displaced by the December tornado outbreak.

Almost nine months after the December tornado outbreak, 11 Mayfield families displaced by the natural disaster received symbolic pieces of mail with the addresses of their temporary tiny homes serving as transitional housing.

The tiny homes are being built by the Bread of Life Humanitarian Effort and firms belonging to the Associated General Contractors of Western Kentucky. The Friday gathering by the organizations shared more about the progress of the construction: of the 11 tiny homes for the families at Adams Circle, three were completely ready to move in. Across the area impacted by tornadoes, the groups are putting together 20 tiny homes total to help people with housing needs.

Cristina Burd, one of the residents who was given a piece of mail, has been taking care of her grandparents and is a lifelong Graves County resident. Her residence was destroyed in the storm, and she’s been in a hotel and a travel trailer since the devastation.

Burd was almost in tears inside her new home.

“It's amazing, like, it's amazing. God bless all these people, really,” Burd said.

She said her family got her connected with the tiny homes program to get this kind of temporary housing for herself and her three children.

“They're gonna be so happy,” Burd said. “They’re gonna be so happy. It's wonderful.”

Burd’s home is one of the three that is ready for moving in, and she said one of the first things she’s looking forward to doing in her new home is having a home-cooked meal with her family.

Various leaders of the organizations building the tiny homes and elected officials also spoke at the event. Chris Nelson, the executive vice president of the AGC of Western Kentucky, mentioned what he experienced in the immediate aftermath of the storm.

“I went into my office on that Monday morning, on the 13th, and at 7:01 [a.m.] I had a call from a chapter from Western Pennsylvania. First thing they asked is, ‘What can we do? How can we help you?’” Nelson said. “From that point on I got other calls asking ‘What can we do?’ from AGC firms throughout the state and other chapters throughout the nation.”

Nelson referenced monetary and supply donations that came in from other AGC groups. He said this tiny homes effort let him know that his organization would play a role in the recovery process.

“As AGC, we're builders. We build hospitals, schools, churches, roads, homes, and a variety of other buildings,” Nelson said. “Our role would be building back communities. Today is a small example of this.”

Nelson also talked about how Joel Crider, the workforce coordinator of the AGC of Western Kentucky, made AGC a natural fit for making this project work with his role in local ministry and as a lifelong Graves County resident.

Crider started his remarks by acknowledging he likely couldn’t name all the people who assisted the organizations with the tiny homes.

“I believe it would be wrong, though, to gather here on this occasion and not give you some idea of the number of folks that played the part in the 20 transitional homes that we have been able to provide,” Crider said.

He named groups such as the Seven Oaks Church of Christ and other area churches; the Bread of Life Humanitarian Effort volunteers; several local businesses who provided supplies for the housing; local apprentices and technical school students who helped with electricity, plumbing and carpentry; Mayfield Electric and Water Systems and a variety of local contractors, among other organizations.

“These are all folks that are covered up, busy, but they dropped everything they were doing to help make this project a reality,” Crider said.

Crider recognized Tom Crawford, a retired volunteer from Christopher, Illinois who came down in the aftermath of the storm and hasn’t left since. Crawford said Crider likes to call him his “general contractor” for this project.

“I hate it for the community, what happened to them,” Crawford said. “But for me, it's been one of the biggest blessings of my life because I've met literally some of the finest, most wonderful people I've ever met in my life. This place has really grown on me. I think this feels more like home down here now than my home in Illinois.”

Crawford described the process as “nothing short of amazing” to see all the different people come together with all their different skills to build these homes.

Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman, a Democrat, was in attendance and shared some of her thoughts on how the ongoing recovery process has been for Mayfield.

“The devastation that you experienced, that this community went through, pales in comparison to the Team Kentucky spirit that we get to see lived out in this community every single day,” Coleman said.

She shared how in the aftermath of the disaster, people would tell her they had never seen people come together like they did in Kentucky. Coleman noted how different groups had collaborated to make this project happen.

“This project could not have happened this quickly without all of you coming together. All of your actions on or after December 10 are extraordinary, but they're not uncommon, because this is what Kentuckians do,” Coleman said. “When times are rough, we have one another's back.”

Coleman, who was a teacher before she got into her current job, also showed her appreciation for students who had assisted with the building of these tiny homes.

“Seeing them and knowing the work that they did here continues to give me hope for the future, which is what today is about,” Coleman said.

Mayfield Mayor Kathy O’Nan spoke on how during this experience she has seen what good could come from a bad situation.

“From the minute that tornado exited Graves County, the good began,” O’Nan said. “People from all over the United States, and some from all over the world, had come to get us to this point of rebirth, rebuilding, recreation.”

O’Nan, also a former teacher, said students who were involved in the tornado recovery process were learning what they can do to help in a disaster situation. She said they had probably “learned through osmosis” the lesson that they can always do something to help.

Lily Burris is a tornado recovery reporter for WKMS, Murray State's NPR Station. Her nine month reporting project is supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
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