Cierra, Tobius and their three children will be among the first families to move into the new Ellen’s Glen neighborhood in Knoxville.
Cierra and Tobius met over a decade ago as students at Alabama State. Since then, they have moved to Knoxville and had three children: their daughter Zaharra (9) and twin boys Ocean and River (8). Together, their family loves to play sports, listen to music throughout their apartment and cook and enjoy healthy meals. Each of their children is naturally gifted in music and sports, and Cierra and Tobius work hard to encourage them to pursue their dreams.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Cierra and Tobius were working at a college campus, but when schools shut down, they both faced layoffs from their positions and quickly had to find new ways to provide for their family. Tobius now works at a warehouse for a grocery store, unloading trucks. Cierra works full-time with an online Customer Service platform where she helps people all over the world while still being able to care for her children and manage continuous doctor appointments and schooling needs.
These hardworking parents sought out Knoxville Habitat because they want their kids to grow up in an environment where they will feel safe and be able to thrive. In their current apartment, their neighborhood often feels unsafe for their family, and the loud environment makes working from home and caring for young children difficult. Right now, their children cannot safely play outside, which is especially difficult since they all play sports. They are also often left without maintenance help, even when living conditions are not acceptable.
“I want my children to have a place to call home,” said Cierra. “It will be like a safe haven.”
They have been looking for a fresh start for their family, but the rising cost of rent has been a difficult challenge for them to overcome. They are excited for the opportunity to work with Knoxville Habitat and build their first home together.
“I feel like I’m at home every time I come to one of the meetings,” Cierra said. “Just being able to engage with other families that are wanting the same things we’re wanting is the most amazing part.”
Cierra and Tobius enjoy providing the family environment where kids in their neighborhood come to hangout. As parents, they provide a place full of structure, love and imagination, and they are excited to bring this energy to their new neighborhood. They love the idea of hosting dinner for their neighbors, planning community events, decorating their home for the holidays, and putting up a basketball hoop for their children.
Their new home will be more than a house to them. It will be a place where Cierra can grow her business. A place where Tobius can help people with his passion for nutrition. Where River can play his drums and where Zaharra and Ocean can practice sports outside. Their new home will be an opportunity where together they can build strength, stability, and independence for their family.