School bus driver gets new home with help from middle school families

Community rallies behind bus driver to help buy new home
Posted at 5:28 PM, Mar 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-10 07:00:02-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — At J.T. Moore Middle School you'll find Deana White, or "Ms. Dee" as she's known, roaming the halls, on the playground and especially driving the bus.

"She holds kids accountable but they also know that she loves them and cares about them," said Principal Dr. Gary Hughes.

The single mother of four now-grown boys is no stranger to running a tight ship, especially when she's behind the wheel. "I know them by name so if anybody gets out of hand I can call you by name," she said.

It takes a personality like hers to drive 80 children to and from school every day. "My goal is to help one child a day," she said. "If I help one child a day I've done my job." Little did she know, she'd be getting some help of her own too.

For years Ms. Dee struggled to buy her first home — until she discovered Habitat for Humanity of Greater Nashville. But in the last stretch of buying her dream home, she was $5,000 short.

"We've been hearing her struggle with this over the months, and over the past few weeks her voice changed and she basically had given up and said 'it's just not going to happen, I'm just not going to be able to do it,'" Hughes said.

So Hughes and his staff put together a GoFundMe without Ms. Dee knowing. The goal was $5,000, but J.T. Moore families donated more than $9,000.

"I kept just hitting the refresh button and calling Miss Elder and saying 'it's gone up another $150, it's gone up $500 more' and just watching for hours seeing how it grew," said Hughes.

Now Ms. Dee's dream of owning a home will become a reality. "They have really changed my life," she said holding back tears, "and now I'm going to be a homeowner, and I'm so excited."

Ms. Dee is expected to move into her new Habitat for Humanity home this June.