Two days ago, Glenna Ogle’s newly rebuilt home was dedicated to her by Appalachia Service Project. A crowd of supportive family members, friends, and faithful volunteers gathered in honor of the dedication and in celebration of two hard months of work completed. She was handed the keys, and through grateful tears, she addressed the crowd of people.
“All of you touched my life,” she said. “God worked through you all or I wouldn’t be here.”
Glenna lost her home and all her belongings in the Gatlinburg fires last November, which killed 14 people, destroyed 2,800 buildings, and burned 17,000 acres of land. The entirety of Sevier County was and is still largely desecrated, leaving many people with no place to live. Glenna was one of these victims. While her past is ablaze with turmoil and sorrow, today she is hopeful. Thanks to Appalachia Service Project, which made a long term commitment to rebuild 25 homes that were destroyed in the fires, Glenna has a tangible hope for her future.
Glenna’s home was their first rebuild. They began the process on May 22 of this year in partnership with First Baptist Knoxville. However, volunteers traveled in from Tennessee, Ohio, Wisconsin, Illinois, Georgia, Kentucky, Oregon, and Missouri. Baptists, Methodists, and Catholics alike worked through unpredictable weather and extreme temperatures to make this home a reality for Glenna.
First Baptist got involved in the build because of their preexisting relationship with ASP. Three years ago Tom Ogburn met Walter Crouch, ASP’s president, and they immediately wanted to partner in ministry. The years went by, however, and no situation presented itself, but the two maintained they should work together.
“God got tired of us trying to figure out how to partner together,” said Walter at the dedication on Friday. “These fires happened, and then we had to work together. First Baptist really headed up this build.”
Altogether over 2020 hours have gone into the house. Half of those were completed by First Baptist Knoxville members in both the hearing and deaf congregations. Specifically, Jim Bailey managed the build. He spent 29 days on site and coordinated all the volunteers from First Baptist, sending out daily and weekly email updates and requests to get the work done. Jim made this build possible, and we are thankful for his leadership and time.
All the time, money, and effort was worth it, when Glenna came out of her completed home for the first time and shouted, “I love everything!”
She then rattled off a list of what she loved: the flowers, the bed, the paint job, and “everything everyone has given me.”
Glenna Ogle may have lost her home, but she never lost her faith.
During his speech, Walter Crouch summed up ASP’s motive for what they do, and it is a testament to the Christian life of service.
“We do this because it’s what we’re supposed to,” he said. “God created us to serve one another. One day Glenna’s new house will come down too, just like the old one. But the relationships will last forever. The world is about loving God and loving people. Glenna thank you for letting us love you.”
First Baptist would like to thank everyone who volunteered and made this build possible. We created something new together, and with God’s help, changed a life forever. We plan on continuing our partnership with ASP throughout their coming builds, and we need your help! If you’d like to be put on a list of volunteers, please contact Arthur Clayton at .