- Associated Press - Saturday, March 14, 2015

KINGSPORT, Tenn. (AP) - Many things may have changed in Kingsport over the past 30 years, but there has been one constant. Every year, a group of men get together and help build houses for low-income families. They are called the Kingsport Regulars.

The group was formed in 1985. Back then it was not called the Kingsport Regulars.

“It was started in our church by three Presbyterian people,” said Dick Orr, one of the founding fathers of the Kingsport Regulars. “One of which was a new church member. … The first house took them 14 months to get finished.”

Chuck Smith, another founding member, retired in 1994 and started building houses full-time. That was when the group started calling themselves the Kingsport Regulars. Smith called some of the guys irregulars because they were working full-time and could not commit themselves to building the houses full-time.

The group is called the Regulars because out of all the volunteers, there are about 50 or so retired men who regularly volunteer to build houses. The Regulars have built 50 houses over the years and recycled 10 homes for reuse.

Along the way, the Regulars began partnering with Holston Habitat for Humanity.

Holston Habitat is a nonprofit organization that partners with low-income families and sponsors groups to build simple, decent houses. The houses are built in partnership with low-income families, who have to contribute 500 hours of “sweat equity” into building their homes and volunteering to build other homes.

The homes are sold to the families at no profit and the mortgage payments, ranging from $325 to $425, are recycled to finance homes for other families.

The Regulars usually build two houses a year and do almost all of the work, with the exception of some of the more technical aspects of the construction, such as pouring a concrete foundation. Since the group volunteers so much, they have their own tool shed behind Habitat’s ReStore, located at 750 E. Main St. in Kingsport.

Many of the regulars are retirees and most have been volunteering for years. Some say the camaraderie with the other guys keeps them coming back. Others say it gives them something to do.

But there’s one reason that rises above all others.

“To help somebody out,” said Smith.


Information from: Kingsport Times-News, https://www.timesnews.net

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