Meet “Do the Right Thing” Winners Don and Diane Barnes

(WDEF)  Habitat for Humanity Executive Director helped surprise our first "Do the Right Thing" winners.  He said, "I nominated the two of you for doing the right thing for Habitat all the time.  And on behalf of the Board and the staff and the partner families, we’d like to recognize you for for all of the work you’ve done over the years."
        For the better part of two decades, Don and Diane Barnes have given their heart, soul and sweat equity to Habitat for Humanity of Greater Chattanooga.
        Amy Katcher said, "On behalf of WDEF News12 and Integrity Automotive Group, $500 to you and your husband for doing the right thing."  Diane Barnes was shocked.  She said, "Oh my goodness.  Oh that’s wonderful.  We really appreciate that!"
        Butler nominated the couple for this award.  He explained why by saying, "They are the volunteers on steroids.  How about that?  They have been with Habitat for 18 years.  They work full time.  40-50 hours a week, 50 weeks a year.
        But if you ask this hard working couple, they don’t think their dedication is unusual.
        Diane Barnes explained, "Because we believe in the ministry.  It is a wonderful ministry. And it not only ministers to us, because it gives us an opportunity to invest our lives, because he retired from Dupont so what are you going to do with your life?  And what better way than to invest it in another human being’s life?"
        To keep the award a secret…  We interviewed the Barneses under the guise of talking about Habitat’s 250th house completion.  And even then it was hard to get the couple to claim any part of Habitat’s success.
        Diane Barnes said, "It’s good for the city, it’s good for us, it’s good for our families so it truly is an investment in another human being, and it can’t be any better than that."
        And with roughly 38,000 volunteer hours under their belts…  They’ve invested in quite a few human beings.
        Diane added, "There was one family that the lady some something, she said I have prayed for a place to live.  She said I used to look through a hole in my roof and see the stars.  And she said I prayed.  I need a place, a safe place.  A comfortable place for my children.  And she did.  She made a wonderful homeowner who was not afraid to tackle anything because she desperately needed the home and she was willing to work for it.  And that’s really what you want.  We don’t give a hand out, we give a hand up."
        And although Don is more of the strong silent type, he finally admitted why Habitat is so close to his heart as well.
        He said, "Same reason Diane has.  Just like to give something back to the community."
Categories: Local News

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