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Pam Birtcil: Habitat’s executive director

By MARK MCGEE - mmcgee@t-g.com
Posted 5/13/23

No one really knows where life is going to lead them. Pam Birtcil, for instance, didn’t plan a career with a non-profit organization.

During her days working in Atlanta, Georgia, she was …

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Pam Birtcil: Habitat’s executive director


No one really knows where life is going to lead them. Pam Birtcil, for instance, didn’t plan a career with a non-profit organization.

During her days working in Atlanta, Georgia, she was part of the corporate world after earning a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Georgia.

“I am pretty good with math, but I don’t enjoy it,” Pam said. “I was encouraged to go in that direction because it came very easy for me.

“I worked in the dental field in accounting in Atlanta. When I moved to Middle Tennessee, I went to work for Community Health Systems in Franklin which owns hospitals all over the country. I did that for my first 10 years here.”

She and her husband Ted lived in Duluth, Georgia, close to Atlanta. He was transferred to Middle Tennessee by the Red Wing Shoe Company in 1992. The Birtcils’ moved to Bell Buckle 10 years later.

“That’s how we got to Bell Buckle,” Birtcil said. “Ted gave up his position with Red Wing and went into real estate with Simmons Realty.

“We wanted to slow everything down. We had lived in Atlanta and raised part of our family there. We call this ‘God’s country’. We like Bell Buckle and enjoy the pace there.”

Time for a change

Pam had left corporate work and was helping Ted in the real estate work when she heard about the opening at Bedford Builds Habitat for Humanity.

“At the time Chuck Gunn was with Keller-Williams,” Pam said. “Chuck was on the board of directors for Bedford Builds Habitat for Humanity.

“He asked me if I knew anything about Habitat. I said ‘yes, I did’ because when I was in student council in Georgia I went to the Governor’s mansion and got to meet Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter. He was the governor then. I followed him a little and knew of Habitat just because of its connection to him.”

Gunn told Pam about the job opening as executive director. She told Gunn she didn’t know how to build a house, but she knew about fundraising through youth.

Pam was hired as executive director for Bedford Builds Habitat for Humanity in 2006. She is also in her second term on the state board for Habitat for Humanity of Tennessee representing small affiliates in District 2.

“The board is made up of 50 percent leaders from Habitats and the other 50 percent are business owners,” Pam said.

“That first summer we built two houses,” Pam said. “Before the pandemic, we used to build two houses and sometimes three. There are 59 Habitat homes in Bedford County and 27 that have been built since I have been here.”

Since she didn’t know how to build a house she depended heavily on Earl Pewitt and Mitchem Miolen for their construction expertise.

“I worked with Earl for almost 10 years,” Pam said. “Mitchem is my construction guy now. He helped Earl. As Earl got older, he and Mitchem kind of changed places. Mitchem was more the lead and Earl was helping him.

“Kenneth Sanders is our other employee. He is one of our homeowners. He did such a great job while he was doing his 350 hours of sweat equity on his home.”

Thriftiness builds homes

The first thrift store for Bedford Builds was behind two garage doors at a building owned by Jody Lambert. Pam’s office was there as well.

“We used it for a couple of years, but we were getting so much stuff,” Pam said. “We could fit it in the building, but we couldn’t walk around. We then moved to Madison Street at a building owned by Larry Price.”

Heating and cooling the area was a problem so Pam looked for new quarters. Her husband Ted and realtor Darin Hasty found the present store location on East Depot Street in what was once Clifford’s Furniture Store.

“We were able to purchase the building instead of renting it,” Pam said. “We were making money, but the purpose of the thrift store is to build a house, and with rents always increasing it was difficult. I met with our board and said we needed to find something we could afford so we could build up our house fund. And that is when we found this building.”

Family ties

While she and Ted enjoy Bell Buckle, it has not been completely idyllic.

In February of 2008 their daughter Ashley, a junior at Middle Tennessee State University, was driving home from an event at UT-Memphis Medical School. She was traveling along I-40 near Jackson, Tennessee, on a stormy day.

“There was tornadic weather," Pam said. “There was a state trooper behind her. He told us a very strong wind picked up Ashley’s car. She hit a tree and died.” She was just 20 years old.

Birtcil said, “You never get over it.” Yet, despite the loss, “I always love talking about her.”

Today, the family is doing well. Their oldest daughter, Tiffany, teaches at Central Magnet School in Murfreesboro. Jay, their son, works in IT for Metro Government in Nashville, while Ted continues his real estate work with Simmons Realty.

Drop by

Pam’s office is located at 209 Depot Street in the back of the Bedford Builds Habitat for Humanity Thrift Store. Shontelli Allen will greet you at the door and help you navigate through the merchandise. The store is open Tuesday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m