To take on a home renovation is a huge undertaking for anyone. A 3.5 acre 3,700 square foot property is even more daunting. But Angela Faulkner was happy to take on the task of providing a safe, warm and loving environment for the Hand UP for Women participants, graduates and staff. Faulkner said she “took the bull by the horns and got it done.” As the project lead she had her hands full and spent months and countless hours sprucing up Miracle Ridge at Buffat Mill.

A realtor by trade, Faulkner has done a variety of handiwork tasks leading home project renovations; That’s exactly what she did for this one. When Hand UP for Women acquired the Buffat Mill property in September 2023, she contacted all the vendors to either donate to Hand UP for Women or reduce costs tremendously. She set up all the scheduling to have people come out to add fencing, blinds, granite and more.

One of her biggest challenges was finding manual labor for free or reduced costs. But she found it – including her 85-year-old dad. “That’s where I’ve mainly learned everything. He’s passed it on over the years,” Angela said of her father’s handiness.

Nearly every room has been improved by Angela and her team. “I’m honored that I was available to be able to do it and that the Hand UP team trusted me with such an important task,” she said.

One of the main focuses was to finish the basement – transforming it into offices for Hand UP for Women staff. A soothing light blue paint covers the walls; Executive Director Eva Pierce has her own spacious office decked in UT Vols decor, and the three other staff members have large desks in a spacious office space. It’s a space that feels like hope and new beginnings start here. There’s even a mini kitchenette and bathroom, allowing for staff to have access to anything they need during their workday. Thus it gives the home a separate space for residents.

Moving upstairs to the main floor, the kitchen and bathroom received the most renovations. In the kitchen, Angela’s team added granite countertops, updated the hardware and lighting. Donors gave Miracle Ridge at Buffat Mill a new range hood, refrigerator and microwave. Plus, the kitchen floor was repaired modernizing the home. The bathroom needed plumbing, electrical work and a new vanity.

In the second story, the three participants or graduates who live there each have their own bedroom and share a bathroom. Angela and her team added a double vanity sink to make the bathroom more spacious for the women. Years ago donors helped supply the furniture for the bedrooms for the first Hand UP for Women home. Since Hand UP for Women is truly about offering a hand up,  the women who live there pay 15% of their monthly income toward rent, allowing for an affordable housing option.

“Having a safe home in this newly renovated beautiful house has made me feel overwhelmed with God’s love. I have not always had a safe home or a safe place to go but now I’m surrounded by people that care for me and want to keep me safe,” current participant, Jammie Connolly, said.

All of Angela and her team’s hard work paid off just in time for the ribbon cutting and open house weekend. The Knoxville Chamber of Commerce led the ribbon cutting with Eva, Angela and keynote speaker Mayor Glenn Jacobs.

“My hope is that the campus will continue to grow to serve more women in surrounding counties and that the next two phases can get done quickly,” Angela explained.

The next phase includes transforming a detached three-car garage into a classroom space. (Currently, the living room is being used as a classroom).

The third phase will be turning the second detached garage into three apartments for graduates who will pay a larger portion of rent based on their monthly income.

It’s these initiatives that help keep the hope in participants strong.

“I see a bright future with my children with me and being the mother that they need. I’m learning a lot with my Hand UP classes. I’m paying attention and I’m growing into the woman, the mother, the friend, the child of God that I’m meant to be,” Jammie said.

“I believe that in order to make the best decisions and plans for your future, you have to have a solid, stable foundation. What I wasn’t aware of until recently is how, if you throw in love, how much more confident, comfortable, and gratifying the situation is. You see, a number of places can provide a safe, stable place to live. But not all can provide you with love, and continue to provide it, even after you move forward and get a place of your own. You will still belong here at Miracle Ridge,” current participant, Janea Hays explained.

For the first time in 22 years, Hand UP for Women has a debt to pay off the house. They have a little more than $400,000 to pay off before the next projects can begin.  If you’re compelled to make a donation you can do so here. You can also order items from the Amazon wishlist found here. Hand UP for Women staff are immensely grateful for all of its supporters throughout the years.

Additionally, the Hand UP for Women staff are appreciative of the sponsors who have helped make this extensive home renovation happen including American Lighting, Budget Blinds, Cantrell’s Heat and Air, CertaPro Painters, Chris Conner, John Cox, Gary and Robin Duncan, John Mark and Christina Duncan, Angela Faulkner, Fellowship North Church, Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery, Friedman’s Appliances, Glenn Frazier and Friends, Derrick Gordon and Friends, Graybar, D.R. Horton, Kaiser Restorations, Knox Rail Salvage, Al Lindberg, Nelson and Dianna Linkous, Mike and Kim Miller, Dick Sampsel, Betty-Lou Simpson, Missy’s Treasures, Rocky Top Materials, Stanley Fencing & Custom Gates, Stone Design Granite and Marble, Tindell’s Building Materials, Tom Wilson, Roland Van Dusen.