Vowing to reorganize, the board of directors of Habitat for Humanity of Anderson County has replaced a husband-wife duo that had served as longtime executive director and operated its home store in Grove Center.
Board members said they agreed last week to replace Susan Burgess-Parrish, who had been executive director for about 12 years, and Rodney Parrish, Habitat Home Store manager for about seven years.
The Parrish couple was told of the decision on Tuesday.
The 11-member board sent out a press release the same day announcing that Jennifer Sheehan, who had been Habitat’s resource development director since October, is now interim executive director. Charlotte Bowers, who had been community development coordinator for two years, is interim manager of the home store.
“The board just decided to get a fresh start, some reorganization,” HFHAC board member Vana DeMarinis said Wednesday.
Sheehan has previously worked in Knoxville at the Tennessee Home Builders Association, Volunteer Ministry Center, and Legal Aid of East Tennessee.
DeMarinis and Sarah Booher, who is also a board member and executive committee member, declined to comment on the reasons for the personnel changes or any issues that might have been discussed with the Parrishes. They called it a personnel matter.
But they said visitors should start to see changes at the home store, including a cleaner, more organized shop and a reorganization meant to offer “more curb appeal.” Storage pods and other items will be removed from the store’s Randolph Road parking lot, Booher said.
She said there is a big sale at the home store through next week.
DeMarinis and Booher said Habitat wants to develop relationships with other organizations, cities, and Anderson County. The board also wants to build more homes and complete more rehabilitation work. They’re focused on three different areas in Oak Ridge and Anderson County, DeMarinis said.
One of the last high-profile projects of Habitat for Humanity of Anderson County might have been a proposal to build a 40-home subdivision on former city land on Carver Avenue in Scarboro. It was in its first phase when it ran into funding issues, DeMarinis said.
Habitat had launched a capital campaign in 2007 and 2008 to raise $1.5 million over four years to help offset the $3.2 million needed for infrastructure at a Hickory Ridge subdivision in Clinton and completion of construction of 12 homes there, as well as for half of the infrastructure in the Scarboro subdivision and construction of the first 16 houses there.
Board members said Habitat had a significant drop in funding during the Great Recession, which officially ended in June 2009, but the economic situation is improving.
“We’re just hoping to get more business support,” DeMarinis said. “The funding is going to be key.”
Sheehan said Habitat hopes to work on collaboration and communication and how to streamline services with Aid To Distressed Families of Appalachian Counties and other organizations to work as efficiently as possible.