OAKLAND, Calif. - Juanita Clemmons, a production technician at Nissan's Vehicle Assembly Plant in Smyrna, Tenn., volunteered to travel alone across the country, to a place where she knew no one else, all because of her son. He inspires her to break barriers and to rebuild her own life.
"I thank God that I was picked to do this because it is just another part of my story that I can tell somebody else," said Clemmons.
Clemmons is one of six employees Nissan Motor Company picked to work with Habitat for Humanity as volunteers for Habitat for Humanity's 2013 Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project. Their task was to help build, or repair, dozens of homes in three U.S. cities in a one-week period.
Clemmons has always enjoyed helping others, but lately volunteering has become even more central to her life. She said the opportunity that Nissan gave her to build a home in Oakland is helping her maybe even more than the homeowners.
"Just being with people has helped me get to where I am today, and just being here with these people all week has helped me to get through," said Clemmons.
Clemmons lost her son about a year ago in a car accident.
"From that minute your whole life is shattered. You do not know what you are going to do. Losing a child is nothing that a parent ever wants to hear. It just takes time to get yourself back together," said Clemmons.
Clemmons said building a home and a new future for a deserving family is exactly what she needed to rebuild her own life.
"It's been a year, and every day you think about it. Even last night I was talking to my sister and she said, 'you know Juantee would be proud that you are there helping somebody,'" said Clemmons.
Clemmons plans to take all that she learned in California back home to Smyrna, Tenn. She wants to keep breaking barriers and serving others in honor of her son.
"It is not all about him or me. It is about God giving me the strength to move on and help someone else," said Clemmons. "It has taught me there are always people less fortunate than you are."
Nissan employees like Clemmons have volunteered more than 25,000 hours to build, side by side, with Habitat partner families. Since 2005, Nissan has contributed nearly $11 million in house sponsorships and truck donations in the U.S. and internationally.
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