After a life seasoned with challenges but strengthened through faith, Robert and his wife, Bridget, are steadily working towards a better future.
Growing up in New York, Robert lived within the epicenter of a growing drug epidemic that was sweeping the entire country. He recalls that it “hit like a bomb and spread” throughout his community. The tragic crisis affected both those who did and did not struggle with drug use. Robert knew he needed an opportunity to change his environment and his future.
“I’m seeing friends, people I went to school with, at 19, dead because they’re trying to sell drugs. Family members killed because they’re on drugs… I said I had to get out of New York before I became a casualty,” Robert exclaimed.
While walking home from picking up his diploma at his high school, he found the opportunity he was looking for by walking into an Army recruiter’s office. Shortly after, he was stationed in Fort Stewart, Georgia before being deployed to Germany. He served during the Gulf War as part of the Air Defense Artillery Unit, working in telecommunications.
Reflecting on his years in the Army, Robert says “It was the best decision I’ve ever made. It was hard, but it made me grow up.”
Upon returning to civilian life, Robert felt another calling and rededicated his life to the Lord. He is now studying to be ordained as a minister through his East Knoxville church. While pursuing his studies, Robert also works as a custodian at Knox County Schools. Bridget will soon be starting a new job as a caretaker for people with intellectual disabilities.
Once ordained, Robert hopes to minister to the Knoxville community through a Christian-based recovery program. After growing up in a troubled community, Robert knows his mission in life is to help people that society said are never going to make it.
Robert and Bridget’s dream is to own their own home that they can make the “headquarters of [their] ministry.”
Currently, they live in a small, one-bedroom rental with their beloved cat, Jazzy. The space is small and doesn’t allow much space for the community atmosphere they hope to create. For years, Robert and Bridget have been trying to find a place to live and call their own, but the rising prices of homebuying and building and the lack of available housing in Knoxville have made it impossible.
Robert and Bridget decided to partner with Knoxville Habitat to build their home in the new Ellen’s Glen neighborhood. They look forward to working with their community and veteran supporters to build a foundation for their new life.
“When we move in, it’s going to be a home, not just a place where we live,” said Robert. Together, they talk about the joy they feel when they think about having their grandbabies over to their house. They are excited to be in the Ellen’s Glen neighborhood, surrounded by other hardworking families that they can build a community of hope with.
They look at their future home as a major step toward strength and stability.
“Our God (is a God of) Re. Restore. Rebuild. Renew. He takes the broken things and makes them right…That’s me. I’m being Rebuilt.”