Another Home Repair Success Story


The Barnard Family – Comfortable and Happy in Their Recently Repaired Home

Written by Pat Bacon, Habitat’s Family Support Specialist

When I pulled into the snowy driveway that faces the Barnard house, I could see a curtain move from one side of the window to the other, and before I could get out of my car and walk toward the front door, Angela Barnard had opened it and was standing on the front porch. Anticipating a visitor, a much-loved cat scampered underneath the house. Angela’s smile was welcoming as she invited me to come inside. She said that she had been waiting for me and in a pleasant voice, she called out to her husband, Neal, “Ms. Bacon is here. Come into the living room; she came from Habitat to talk with us.”

The living room was toasty and full of a variety of colorful artificial flowers. Neal said, “Ann (short for Angela) prefers artificial flowers to live plants because she doesn’t have to water them and there is always something pretty to look at in the room…. Ann likes pretty things.” Three of their twelve-year-old wedding pictures are proudly and prominently displayed on one wall. The wedding was in the living room and Ann did all the preparations for the wedding. A tall brown, beautifully dressed ceramic angel surrounded by sea shells reigns over the coffee table situated in the middle of the room. The angel, given to Ann by her mother, is bordered by two smaller angels, and Ann says, “Together they represent my mother, my sister and me.” She swallows because her mother and her sister are deceased, but Angela quickly recovers and says, “Now Neal is the focus of all of my attention.” With no hesitation Neal echoes Ann’s words, “And Ann is the focus of all of my attention.” They smile at each other knowingly; their devotion to one another obvious.

NRI_Barnard before and afterNeal and Ann have each known illness and stints in the hospital. Neal has also spent time in a rehabilitation facility to re-gain his ability to walk. Both are now recovering at a steady pace, mindful of their doctors’ directions, and equally mindful of each other.

When they realized that their house was in need of some repairs they knew that their combined, modest monthly incomes would not allow them to approach conventional repair sources. It was then that Angela remembered that she had heard about Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity’s repair program. After talking about it, just as they do everything else, Neal and Angela requested an application. They are both quick to say that from the onset Habitat’s staff was responsive and pleasant. They are appreciative of the way the staff carefully explained the application process, answered their questions and assessed the work that needed to be done.

And when the work was completed, they were very satisfied that it was well done and a good price. A new front door makes them feel safe and secure, and it also makes the approach to the house more attractive. An unsightly hole in the ceiling between the living room and the hallway has been repaired, and the new kitchen sink and cabinet makes Ann beam with delight. To top it all off, the kerosene heaters that they once used to keep themselves warm are now in a corner because they have a new HVAC system complete with floor registers and ducts.

Angela and Neal said that because the cost for the repair work was so reasonable, they will be able to make the payments with no trouble. They are actively telling other homeowners about Habitat’s Home Repair program, and Ann says, “I want others, like Neal and me, to know about this wonderful opportunity that helps people who just need a chance. We want other people to enjoy their homes like we do now. Habitat is a program that cares about people.”

As I prepare to leave, Angela invites me to see the kitchen. As I stand in the doorway, she pats the new cabinet around the sink and we smile at each other. We make our way to the front door and as she opens the door, the cat scampers back inside as fast as he came out. It’s a cold day outside, but it’s warm and toasty inside the Barnard house.

If you or someone you know is interested in our Home Repair program, please click here.


Celebrating National Volunteer Appreciation Week (April 12-18) with a very special house dedication and more

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Volunteers support Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity staff and homeowner families in every aspect of their work. Last year, 2,100 volunteers contributed more than 64,000 hours of service – a service valued at more than $1.3 million!* Another way to look at it: the hours contributed by volunteers equates to having an additional 30 full-time staff members!

As Executive Director Lew Kraus often says, “We can have all the money in the world, but without volunteers, the Habitat model doesn’t work. Volunteers are the backbone of our organization.” And what better way to honor them, than to build a house in their honor.

That house was started last fall and is known as the Hearts & Hammers House; built in celebration of all Habitat volunteers who make safe, decent, affordable homeownership a reality for local families. On Friday, April 17th at 12:30pm, Habitat will dedicate the Hearts & Hammers House and present a ceremonial key to future homeowner Gwen Jones and her family. The event will be held in Habitat’s Hudson Hills neighborhood in West Asheville and the public and media are invited to attend.

Habitat announced the idea for a house honoring volunteers last fall and the community responded swiftly to a $30,000 challenge match by generous sponsors New Morning Gallery and the local branches of BB&T, Carolina Alliance Bank, SunTrust, and Wells Fargo.  During the past six months core volunteers and visiting team alike, were busy building the Jones’ future home and Gwen herself contributed 200 Sweat Equity (volunteer) hours on the jobsite, in the ReStore and Office and in homeownership education classes as part of her partnership with Habitat. She is absolutely thrilled to soon move into her forever home. In fact, Habitat staffers heard her shrills of delight just the other day when Gwen received the good news that her closing would happen even earlier than anticipated!

During National Volunteer Appreciation Week, volunteers will receive small gifts of appreciation as well as complimentary lunch. On the construction site, lunches will be provided by Subway for the second year in a row. Subway will be saluting approximately 2,000 Habitat for Humanity volunteers working across the Carolinas by providing catered boxed lunches from local Subway franchises.

We hope you’ll join us on Friday, April 17 at 12:30pm to celebrate our volunteers and welcome the Jones family home!


Rival High Schools Unite to Build a House

For the second time in Buncombe County, local high school students are raising funds and volunteering to sponsor an Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity home. The students will celebrate the start of the 2015 Student Build House with a wall raising ceremony on Friday, March 27th at 1:30 in Habitat’s Hudson Hills neighborhood in West Asheville. The event is open to the public.

Adding to their homework and after-school sports are “percentage nights” at restaurants, Hoops for Habitat, and school dances, among other fundraisers, to raise money for the house. Asheville Christian Academy and Christ School re-committed after their first successful Habitat Student Build two years ago, and Carolina Day School joined in this year. Each school will raise $18,333 to total $55,000. That’s a big chunk towards the $130,000 it takes to build a Habitat home: additional funds come from ReStore proceeds, individual donations, and current Habitat homeowner mortgage payments.

The partner family, Patricia (Trish) Wolfe and her two sons, are excited to get started. Trish is a Licensed Practical Nurse and Certified Nursing Assistant, and works at Mission Hospital. She is attending AB Technical Community College and will complete her associate’s degree in nursing this May. After purchasing her Habitat house, her next goal is to attain her bachelor’s degree in nursing. Trish posted on her facebook page: “In the midst of my final semester…the first wall to my family’s new house will be raised March 27th by a group of students. So cool that everyone in the house goes to school too.” Her home is expected to be completed in six months.

MANNA Sale on Saturday, March 21st Supports Two Important Issues

The Habitat ReStore will host a one-day food drive for MANNA FoodBank on Saturday, March 21 from 9am-6pm.  Customers who bring 5 cans of food will receive a 20% discount on purchases made that day.

Lack of safe, decent and affordable housing and hunger are both conditions of poverty.  Every day, Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity and MANNA FoodBank work to eradicate poverty housing and hunger, respectively. “This is the seventh consecutive year of our MANNA Sale and we hope that the 20% discount incentive will help us collect at least 800 pounds of food for MANNA FoodBank this year,” said Scott Stetson, ReStore General Manager.

The March 21st MANNA Sale at the Habitat ReStore is a great way for residents to simultaneously support two important issues facing our communities. Your ReStore purchase will help Habitat build and repair homes in this community – and your food donations for MANNA Foodbank will help feed our hungry and food-insecure neighbors. So buy a few extra cans at the grocery store and come by the Habitat ReStore on March 21st  to find a bargain and help your neighbors in need!




Jobsites Heat up for March Madness


March Madness is here, but for Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity that means an influx of volunteer groups spending their spring break volunteering rather than heating up the basketball courts. The groups come from all over the country and bring with them volunteers, funds, and a surge of energy that matches any overtime game.

“The students bring a lot of enthusiasm to the jobsite. You can see them go through a transformation over the week that shows it truly is a life-changing experience for many of them,” says Charlie Franck, core volunteer with Asheville Area Habitat.

Most groups will work mainly on Habitat’s construction site in West Asheville, but some will also try their hand in the Habitat ReStore and on Habitat’s Home Repair sites. This year brings a mix of Collegiate Challenge and Global Village groups, comprised of college students and one national IT business. The groups are housed at Blue Ridge Assembly in Black Mountain, allowing them to enjoy the beauty of the mountains with access to hiking trails nearby. Each group will participate in a dinner with Habitat partner families who are in-process, allowing the volunteers an opportunity to get to know the people they are helping through their volunteer labor.

Visiting groups in March are:

Week One (March 2-6): Wilkes University (Pennsylvania), pictured above and in this Flickr album

Week Two (March 9-13): Heartland Technology Group (IT Company)

Week Three (March 16-20): Lesley University (Massachusetts); Ramapo College of New Jersey (½ week with Habitat, ½ week with other non-profits)

Week Four (March 23-27): University of Missouri

Construction Services Volunteer Coordinator Stephanie Wallace noted, “We are thrilled to welcome both new and repeat groups this year. Wilkes, Heartland Technology and University of Missouri are joining us for the first time, while Lesley and Ramapo are returning for the 4th time!”

Earth Day Incentive – Get Cleaning!


Clear the clutter, empty your attic and take back your garage! There is no better time than now to start your spring cleaning. To help motivate Buncombe County residents, during the month of March the Habitat ReStore will give merchandise donors a coupon for 25% off their total purchase during the week of Earth Day (April 18-26, 2015). Donations are accepted at the Habitat ReStore Monday through Saturday between 9am and 6pm. Or, for larger items, call 828-254-6706 to schedule a free pick-up (within Buncombe County).

In addition to feeling good about giving usable items a new lease on life by donating them, you can also feel good about supporting affordable housing; because that’s exactly what you do when you donate to (or shop at) the Habitat ReStore. Proceeds from ReStore sales help fund Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity’s building programs (new home construction and home repair) and cover administrative and fundraising expenses.

Since 1990, the Asheville Habitat ReStore has provided the community with a source for affordable, gently used—and sometimes new—building materials, furniture, appliances, housewares, books, art and much more. And thanks to this community’s strong commitment to reuse, the ReStore diverts 1,500 tons of usable materials from landfills annually. Please read the Donation Guidelines and drop off your donations or schedule a pick-up today!

Core Construction Volunteers Honored

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“Core” Construction volunteers are those who help Habitat build and repair homes on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. Last year, these core volunteers helped Asheville Area Habitat build 14 new Habitat houses in Swannanoa, Shiloh and West Asheville. They also repaired 33 existing homes in Buncombe County. We thanked and recognized them with a breakfast event at Warren Wilson College recently. Click here to see photos.

“While these folks don’t volunteer for the recognition or the accolades, we feel it’s important to thank them and honor the immense contribution they make to our organization and the community at large. Without volunteers – especially the cores who we can count on week after week – we would not be able to build and preserve communities,” notes executive director Lew Kraus.

In 2014, 74 core construction volunteers collectively contributed more than 16,000 hours of service to Asheville Area Habitat! To put that in perspective, 1,700 individuals volunteered on a construction site last year, collectively providing a whopping 35,000 hours of service! 46% of those total hours (16,000 hours) were completed by just 74 individuals – the “core” volunteers!

Among this core group, were 10 individuals who contributed more than 300 hours and one who topped the scale at more than 600 hours! Habitat congratulated and thanked:

Top Ten Hours volunteers

CJ Obara – 640 hours
Dick Allen – 622
Ken Clark – 454
Bob Laveck – 424
Jerry Ray – 407
Bill Reid – 343
Ray Ducharme – 321
Kevin Cox – 316
Ross Akin – 315
Paul Finegan – 309

In total, 32 core construction volunteers were recognized for contributing more than 250 hours of service last year, each receiving a golden hammer to signify the milestone.

Habitat also recognized those who hit significant longevity milestones. The honorees were:

10 Year Award – Alan Lang and CJ Obara
15 Year Award – Ted Faber and Cliff Joslin (pictured

In addition to Construction volunteers, Habitat utilizes volunteers in the ReStore, administrative office and on committees. These volunteers are recognized in separate appreciate events. Collectively and across the entire organization, nearly 2,100 volunteers contribute more than 64,000 hours to Asheville Area Habitat in 2014.

With a volunteer hour valued by Independent Sector at more $21/hour, this equates to a “gift” of more than $1.3million. Volunteer labor helps keep construction costs low and houses therefore affordable to the families who purchase them (from Habitat). Kraus added, “The Habitat model only works with a strong volunteer component. We cannot overstate the value of volunteers to our organization”.

More than paper and staples


By Rhonda Kensinger, Habitat Partner Family in process

Small children have no concept of time. Jimbo and Nick were no exception. I forgot about something I did – more out of self preservation from the “When are we going to Disney?” kind of questions than anything else – and that was to make a paper chain. Each day they would take a link off; that way they knew how many more days before an event would happen.

I forgot that until Nicholas presented me with my very own paper chain last Sunday. It had 200 links! How a doctor and a first-semester physical therapist student (Havely) have had time to cut and count and staple that many, I don’t know! But they did!

I took 7 links off last week. Here is a picture of a Habitat construction crew holding the 193 left to go. At the end of my last shift, I took off another 7. I’ll keep you posted with pictures as the chain shortens.

What I loved about doing this is that it made everyone, even the serious guys on the construction site, smile wide and big. The connection there was more than staples to paper.

Thank you Nick and Havely for putting my chain together!

Students Leading the Charge to House Sponsorship


Students from Asheville Christian Academy, Carolina Day School, and Christ School are already well on their way to making the second Habitat Student Build House in Buncombe County a reality. These schools have committed to jointly raise the $55,000 it takes to fully sponsor an Asheville Area Habitat house and provide student volunteers (ages 16 and up) and adult chaperones to help build the house. Each school will raise $18,333. Construction on the house is slated to begin March 24th, with the first wall to be raised three days later.

Reaching such a lofty goal takes leadership. The schools have formed a Student Advisory Committee with students from each school who stepped forward to take on the task of leading the charge. The group met last fall in a preliminary Student Build Workshop, and recently met again for their second workshop at the Habitat office this past Saturday, January 24th.

13 high school student-leaders and a faculty member from each school spent Saturday morning with Habitat core volunteers and staff preparing and learning. They toured the ReStore, learned how to effectively recruit and schedule volunteers for the Student Build House, and were trained on how to use an online crowdsourcing campaign to raise money. They reported on what they had already done to raise money (as a total, they are already 63% to their goal!), and discussed what worked and what didn’t. Plans were also made to prepare for the 2016 Student Build House!

The icing on the cake that day was the presentation of a $4,000 check from State Farm. Proof that they had already come far since the first workshop, this check was the result of a grant proposal the students penned and submitted together. It’s amazing what a group of motivated young people can accomplish with a little bit of guidance and a whole lot of heart!

From Books and Gardens to Schools and Homes, Habitat’s Partnership with the Shiloh Community Continues to Grow

In 2014, we celebrated the completion of the nation’s very first “Pope Francis House”, an energy-efficient 4 bedroom/2 bath Habitat house in Shiloh that is now home to the Meadows family. This was the most recent of 41 single-family homes built by Asheville Area Habitat in the Shiloh community during the past 20 years. In the next 2-3 years, we will build 10 houses off Taft Avenue and a few others on in-fill lots.

New house construction is just one way in which Habitat has been involved in Shiloh, a historically significant community of Asheville. We have also completed numerous home repair projects for low-income homeowners, many of whom have lived in their homes for decades – like Eugene Rone. Work has included new roofs, siding repair and replacement, painting, heating system upgrades and more. All of this work is aimed at increasing safety, improving accessibility, and helping people live longer and better in the homes they already own.

Thanks to funds from Pisgah Investments Foundation and proceeds from the 2014 Biltmore Benefit ear-marked specifically for Home Repair projects in Shiloh, Habitat will do many more repair projects there in the next 1-3 years.

In 2013, Habitat helped build a storage shed and raised garden beds at the now-thriving Shiloh Community Garden.  Additionally, we were able to help the Community Association bring electric service to the garden and pavilion for the first time. Just recently, the Shiloh Community Association accepted a donation of land from Habitat, which sits behind the garden and adjacent to our Pope Francis House. Thrilled to have this parcel, the Association hopes a design professional will step forward to help them through the process of coming up with a vision for an expanded garden. Currently, classes and workshops are held at the garden, UNCA students and community residents raise fruits and vegetables in the beds, community yoga is offered Saturday mornings and the amphitheater (sponsored by Tupelo Honey) provides the community with a place for presentations and performances.

Another addition to the community came in the form of a Little Free Library (LFL). Dedicated last summer and located at the community garden across the street from the Shiloh Community Center, this LFL was the idea of a retired librarian living in the community and was constructed by Habitat volunteer Charlie Franck using some materials donated by Habitat. The initial collection of books came from the Habitat ReStore among other sources.

Last year, Habitat also partnered with Estes Elementary School. Though not geographically located within Shiloh, the school serves approximately 75% of elementary school-aged children who live in the Shiloh neighborhood. Habitat staff and volunteers built a storage closet, installed floors and painted walls in their new Community Resource Center. The Resource Center will provide food and clothing support for families of children attending the school and will work to connect those families to other resources in the community that they need.

Furthermore, just this week, one of our staff members, Ed McGowan, began teaching an 8-week Toastmasters Youth Training program. Held at the Linwood Crump Shiloh Community Center, it is a partnership with the City of Asheville’s Teenager Leadership Development Program.

Habitat is building off of a history of participation in the Shiloh community that started with new house construction back in 1992. Habitat is just one of many partners working alongside the Shiloh Community Association toward achievement of the goals laid out in the Shiloh Community Plan 2025 approved by Asheville City Council in 2010.  We are proud to leverage our skills and work alongside others with different proficiencies to work collectively to address needs that go well beyond housing.

Paul Reeves, Director of Construction Services for Asheville Area Habitat adds, “It is truly a pleasure for Habitat to be working in a community that has a clear vision for its future and residents who are organized, motivated and actively working toward increasing the quality of life for all of its community members. Shiloh has embraced our work in their community and sees us as a strong partner in providing affordable housing and home repair.”