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Dr. Thomas House Dedication

in Habitat Homeowners, House Sponsor

On the first Saturday of June, Tacoma Habitat celebrated a double home dedication at the Dr. Claudia Thomas Legacy Houses. The community gathered to welcome Janeta and Hannah, and their families, home. The late Dr. Thomas’ children were present, as were many of her Alpha Kappa Kappa sorority sisters (Zeta Omega Omega Chapter) and friends—including Andie Gernon, who was at the helm of the fundraising effort, in partnership with Ellie Wilson.

Chief Philanthropy Officer Sherrana Kildun opened the event by acknowledging Andie and Ellie’s work. “When we started this project I gave Andie a call and said we’re building in Lakewood; do you think there are any community members who would like to help fundraise? She called all of you, and said she wanted to do this in honor her friend Dr. Claudia Thomas, a long-standing community member here in Lakewood, who I know has touched so many hearts.”

Tacoma Habitat has been building and repairing homes in Tillicum for well over a decade, in partnership with the City of Lakewood. Once this development is complete, there will be 50 Habitat homes in Tillicum.

Construction Site Apprentice Meredith shared, “Something really important to keep in mind is that affordable housing is not cheap housing. We put in all electric heat pumps for heating and cooling, so they have air conditioning and heating throughout. We put in all Energy Star appliances, and a high efficiency heat pump water heater with added extra insulation, and energy efficient exhausts in the bathrooms and kitchens. All of this investment that we’ve put in on the front end keeps the long-term cost of the home affordable.”

Meredith then addressed Janeta and Hannah directly. “It has been just fantastic working with both of you. This is not an easy process and you’ve worked really, really hard. It is fantastic to watch it come to fruition and finally get to hand the house off.”

Sherrana shared a statement from fundraising co-chair Ellie Wilson, who was in Germany on the day of dedication. “Good morning and what a good morning this is! Andie Gernon and I are thrilled to share the accumulation of the Dr. Claudia Thomas townhome legacy project with all of you here in Tillicum, in the City of Lakewood. This is definitely a collaborative project between Tacoma Habitat, the City of Lakewood, service organizations, private clubs, and the generosity of Lakewood residents and others. Claudia Thomas would be proud to be recognized in this way, as a symbol of her service. Claudia was a staunch supporter of children, youth, and their families—making this project a very fitting tribute to her vision and leadership. Andie and I are very happy to welcome Janetta and Hannah, and their children, to their new homes.”

Co-chair Andie Gernon said, “Ellie has been a wonderful partner; I couldn’t have done this without her. The Habitat project is near and dear to both of us. It’s a thrill to be here and see so many of you here too. I appreciate the work that all of you have done to bring us to this day. It’s a wonderful situation for these two families. Claudia would say ‘we did it,’ and we did it together. Thank you for your participation.”

Dr. Thomas’ daughter Lisa Boyd said, “We’ve learned through mom’s legacy that it’s what you do for other people that last beyond you. And she has so many things that are lasting beyond her. Bryan and I are thrilled to be a part of this, thrilled to know that this is something that she has her stamp on even after her passing. It was really important to mom that families would be able to have affordable housing. I know that she’s looking down, thanking everyone here for participating and supporting these efforts. Families, we are thrilled for her name to be a part of this.”

Son Bryan Thomas added, “I just want to say welcome home.”

Having been presented with blessing baskets, the new homeowners addressed those gathered. Hannah began by saying, “I didn’t prepare a speech, but I just want to thank everybody that was involved in making sure that this happened. I know myself, and I think I can speak for Janeta, that we really appreciate it and are really thankful. The staff and volunteers that we met every time on-site are some of the most genuine people that I’ve ever met, so I want to thank all of you too.”

Janeta followed, saying, “I wasn’t prepared to speak because I’m so emotional, but I just want to thank everybody for your time, your effort, your dedication. It means the world—whether we show it little or big. We do want to say thank you. I never thought this would be possible for me and my girls. I am so grateful for Claudia. Thank you to all the construction workers; they’ve been great from day one. They didn’t make you feel like you didn’t know what to do; they just made sure you’re comfortable enough to do it. I’m just very grateful, from the construction workers to the board—for everybody—just thank you. On behalf of my daughters, thank you so much.”

Finally, one of Dr. Thomas’ sorority sisters shared, “This is a day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. I am so thankful to be here today and I would be remiss if I didn’t say something on behalf of our sorority chapter Zeta Omega Omega. We thank you for the opportunity to participate in this wonderful event in honor of the community work of our beloved member Dr. Claudia Thomas. She was, as you know, a dedicated, loyal and faithful member of Zeta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kapa Alpha Sorority. And those of you who knew her, knew that Dr. Thomas worked tirelessly to uplift and improve the Lakewood community through her work on the Lakewood City Council as Mayor. We know that she is pleased, looking down on us with that beautiful smile that she had.”

So much love poured into these two homes. Welcome home, Janeta and Hannah. 




Posted in: Habitat Homeowners, House Sponsor