Tickets On Sale for the 7th Annual Poverty Forum

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The 7th annual Poverty Forum “Evicted: Housing Crisis in WNC” is hosted by Pisgah Legal Services and presented with Mountain Housing Opportunities, Homeward Bound and Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity.

Please join us for a community conversation about affordable housing issues in WNC and how we can work together to bring about change.

Dr. Matthew Desmond is the John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard University and co-director of the Justice and Poverty Project.

His New York Times bestselling book Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City draws on years of embedded fieldwork and painstakingly gathered data. Evicted won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize, National Books Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction.

In 2015, Desmond was awarded a MacArthur “Genius” grant.

Event info:

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Sherrill Center/Kimmel Arena, UNC Asheville

5:30pm – Cocktail Reception with Matthew Desmond
7:00pm – Forum

To buy tickets, click here

Six More Families Are HOME

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The heat and threat of storms didn’t deter homeowners, sponsors, volunteers, staff and community well-wishers from welcoming six more families HOME. These six new houses, one of which is our 300th, are part of Habitat’s McKinley neighborhood off Taft Ave. in Shiloh. The homeowners completed hundreds of hours of sweat equity and homeownership education classes before purchasing their homes from Habitat. They will repay a 30 year, interest-free mortgage – payments that Habitat uses to build more houses. And their annual property tax payments will bolster the local tax base.

These homeowners are putting down roots in a community, in a neighborhood where everyone already knows each another. They took classes together and helped build each others’ homes. Now, they sit on their front porches, watch kids ride bikes in the safe cul-de-sac, and host family and friends for BBQs. And they can plan and save for the future because they know the rent won’t go up, the house won’t be sold, and the children won’t have to switch schools due to yet another unwelcome move. They are building strength, stability, and self-reliance on the foundation of a decent and affordable home. Thanks to all of you who provided your time, your voice, and/or your financial support!

To see photos from the event, please click here.

The homeowner families and sponsors are listed below:

The Collington family’s home – Sponsored by Eaton #9/Alice D. Hamling Foundation/Asheville Duathlon/Anonymous Foundation House and Blue Ridge X-Ray Company, Inc. (Adopt-a-Lot sponsor)

The Heatherly/Leach family’s home – Sponsored by W&S Charitable Foundation with proceeds from Warren Haynes Presents: The Christmas Jam and James Ferguson (Adopt-a-Lot Sponsor)

The Suber family’s home – Sponsored by W&S Charitable Foundation with proceeds from Warren Haynes Presents: The Christmas Jam and Virginia and Drew Litzenberger & Five Fingers Partnership (Adopt-a-Lot sponsors)

The Lucy family’s home – Our 300th house! Sponsored by Legacy Builder’s Society and Scott & Mary Gillam (Adopt-a-Lot sponsors)

The Fulga/Calburgan family’s home Sponsored by Land of the Sky Association of Relators House/Rusty Pulliam Foundation and Asheville Fence (Adopt-a-Lot sponsor)

The Knight family’s homeSponsored by Publix Super Market Charities House and Tom & Nancy Maher (Adopt-a-Lot sponsors)

Wicked Weed Donates $75,000

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Rick Guthy (left) presents check to Andy Barnett, Robby Russell and Beth Russo of Asheville Habitat

 

Recently, Wicked Weed Brewing’s co-founder Rick Guthy presented Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity with a $75,000 donation. “We are very grateful to the Guthy family and to Wicked Weed for their generous gift. We will use this gift to build a safe, affordable Habitat home in our new community in Arden, just up the road from Wicked Weed’s corporate offices,” said Kit Rains, Development Director for Asheville Habitat.

Asheville Habitat’s Executive Director Andy Barnett added, “I am grateful for Wicked Weed’s philanthropic leadership. With this generous investment in Habitat’s mission, Wicked Weed makes it clear that they believe our community can be a place where everyone has a decent, affordable place to call home.”

Committed to Accountability and Transparency

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Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity has attained the coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator! This highest possible rating verifies that Asheville Habitat adheres to sector best practices, executes its mission in a financially efficient way, and has strong financial health and a commitment to accountability and transparency.

Since 1983, we have offered affordable homeownership and home repair services to qualified Buncombe County individuals and families who earn 30-70% of Area Median Income (AMI). Asheville Habitat has built more than 300 new houses and repaired 200 existing homes, helping nearly 1,400 adults and children build a better future.

Since 2002, using objective, data-driven analysis, Charity Navigator has awarded only the most fiscally responsible organizations a 4-star rating. Charity Navigator President and CEO Michael Thatcher noted, “Attaining a 4-star rating verifies that Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity exceeds industry standards and outperforms most charities in its area of work. This exceptional designation from Charity Navigator sets Asheville Habitat apart from its peers and demonstrates to the public its trustworthiness. Approximately only a quarter of rated charities achieve this distinction!”

“It is important that our donors know we are superior stewards of their funds and this 4-star Charity Navigator rating provides them with that level of confidence,” added Kit Rains, Asheville Habitat’s Development Director.

If you’re interested in getting involved with our work, please click here.

 

Finding a Niche in Retirement

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By Alex Cox

On this Thank You Thursday, we are recognizing two volunteers that contribute their time to repairing small appliances, lights, and other electrical items in the ReStore — tasks that can be time consuming and are not necessarily for everyone. These types of repairs can be tedious and you definitely get dirty!

Dick Manz has been volunteering with the ReStore for 18 years. During the last three, he has been working in a dedicated space on a lower level of the ReStore, crowds of vacuums gathered around and bags, cables, and tools hanging from the walls.

“We had a stack of vacuums about a mile high, all needing repair,” said Dick. “You need ample space to spread everything out and properly repair the units that come in. I offered to work on all of them if I had enough room and the tools to do it.” ReStore management was more than happy to oblige.

“I’ve accumulated quite the mess down here, and sometimes I’m not sure what to do with some of it,” said Dick. “But someone has to do it, and it’s not a problem at all for me.”

Dick came to Asheville to retire. Born in Oklahoma, his background is in engineering. He was also in a management position at the paper mill in Canton, NC, about 20 miles west of Asheville. Since his relocation here in 1992, he’s been volunteering most of that time, taking only a couple years off.

Another volunteer, originally from Florida, has been responsible for making sure some of the other electrical items that are sold in the ReStore are in proper working order. Richard Pollard has been volunteering with the ReStore for three years. His background is in maintenance for a nursing home, which has translated well to his volunteer position.

One of his first projects at the ReStore included working on lawnmowers, and then he moved to other electrical components such as appliances and lights.

“I was getting restless after my previous job, and really wanted something to do, and some way to contribute,” said Richard. “I came here, started working on some of the things I knew about, and it kind of went from there.”

Richard also contributes his time to teach his skills to others. He takes on young volunteers who come in and want to learn, sometimes as part of large groups. He has them help out around his workspace while they gain experience regarding electrical repairs.

Richard may have come to the ReStore looking to contribute, but has stayed because of the supportive environment. “I definitely like it here. There’s no drama, no arguing between the people that volunteer here,” Richard said happily. “Everything is a collaborative effort.”

Every volunteer contributes to the successful operation of the ReStore. And when volunteers like Dick Manz and Richard Pollard contribute their time, a strong work ethic and attention to detail, they make everyone else’s job easier. We are thankful for their service and their willingness to get dirty and do the jobs that need to get done. Thank you Dick and Richard!

If you are interested in volunteering with Asheville Habitat, please click here to learn more or sign up.

Flexible Volunteers Contribute to Success of ReStore

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By Alex Cox

Since proceeds from ReStore sales cover administrative and fundraising costs, the 140 volunteers that serve every week are essential in enabling the store to remain a source of funding that allows Habitat to serve families in our community. This week, in Honor of National Volunteer Appreciation Week, we are spotlighting ReStore volunteers Marianne Ryall and Ned Guttman.

Marianne Ryall, from Beaufort, SC, moved to Asheville to be closer to her family, specifically her son. She got familiar with the ReStore out of necessity: after moving here, Marianne needed furniture for her new space, and shopped at the ReStore to find items for her home. She has been volunteering with the ReStore since 2014. Marianne has been invaluable because she has come to be a “floater”, meaning she covers different volunteer shifts as needs change. She has to remain flexible, but that’s no problem for her. Marianne says she has enjoyed her time at the ReStore and plans to volunteer for the foreseeable future.

“This ReStore is definitely different,” Marianne said. “I’ve been to others in South Carolina, but this one is wonderful. Everyone is so helpful and there is such a diverse selection of things.”

Ned Guttman, who has been retired for 10 years and has been volunteering since, is another who steps up to meet needs. “After I retired 10 years ago, I wanted to give back to the community, and volunteering is a way to do that,” said Ned. “I think Habitat is a very worthwhile cause.”

Ned comes in weekly for his regular position of testing and repairing electronics, and also comes in another day each week to help with a separate duty. He knew there was a need for someone to enter volunteer hours into the database on a regular basis. Without being asked, Ned offered his time to complete the task.

“I added the data entry because I knew they needed help, and I am very comfortable with computers.”  Keeping up with the database requires attention to detail, patience, and a commitment to volunteering every week. The numbers need to be submitted on a monthly, quarterly, and yearly basis, and Ned understands the importance of meeting deadlines. He added, “I still volunteer for Habitat because of the appreciation given to the volunteers.”

Every volunteer is vital to Habitat’s mission and the ReStore’s daily operations, and when volunteers take initiative to recognize needs and fill them, it allows things to run even more smoothly. So in honor of National Volunteer Appreciation Week, we say thank you to Ned and Marianne for their flexibility and their dedication!

If you’re interested in volunteering with Habitat, please click here to learn more or sign up.

Inspiring Others Towards Excellence Through Leadership

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by Greta Bush

What do you get when you mix humility, grace, and strong leadership together? One Bill Lineberry. Bill has been a Core volunteer with Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity since 2013, starting on the jobsite, then adding in a role with the Student Build House and finally, joining the Outreach Committee. Bill also volunteers with Western North Carolina Historical Association and has a large role in coordinating speakers and professors for its adult education program.

Bill may not realize this about himself, but when he commits to something, he excels at it, and he subtly encourages others to do the same, simply by leading by example. No matter what role he plays, he seems to have a natural way of raising the bar. After 39 years in the education field—a teacher of American History and Economics for the first 25 years and a principal for the remaining 14—one can see how the years of leadership and excellence have intertwined their way into the core of Bill’s personality. Looking back on his career, Bill said, “It was a wonderful process for me to go from teaching and then leading. I couldn’t have had a better experience for my life.”

I know Bill through Habitat’s Outreach committee; members of the committee are volunteers or Habitat homeowners who represent Habitat to the public in various ways. For example, they might staff an informational table at a service fair or speak to local clubs, faith communities or school groups about what Habitat does. I serve as the staff liaison for the committee, and Bill is one of the star members. (Let’s face it: they’re all stars! I am only somewhat biased.) I have also seen Bill in action with the Student Build—a project I’ll expand on momentarily.

Bill started volunteering with Habitat on the construction site in 2013. It was through his church, First Presbyterian, that he signed up and found himself on our jobsite in Swannanoa. He found the construction supervisors to be so patient and forgiving that he kept coming back, and soon became a Core volunteer, coming every Friday. Of the supervisors, Bill says they “are the best! They are so patient with people like me, who are trying to build skills. And they utilize you and work with you, and when you leave after a day of work, you just feel really good.”

Speaking of being “the best”, Bill has always made a good impression on me. In writing this blog post, I tried to pick that feeling apart—what is it about Bill that makes me gush about what a great volunteer he is? If there is one word I would use to describe him, it’s Excellence.

I’ve noticed that in every role Bill takes, he strives to do his best—he strives for excellence. And, that has led him from one volunteer role to the next. (People start to take notice when you’re good at something!) Soon after becoming a core jobsite volunteer, Bill volunteered to help with the Student Build—another role in which he excels. In that role, among other tasks, he gave public presentations; soon afterward he was nominated for Habitat’s Outreach Committee.

Bill’s previous career benefits him immensely in his roles with the Student Build and Outreach Committee. When he was principal of Woodward Academy in Atlanta (a private school of 2,000 students from pre-K to 12th grade), he led 100 faculty and 25 support staff. He said, “It was a grand affair. I worked 24/7 for fourteen years and loved every minute of it!” On the committee, Bill raises his hand for scenarios that make others nervous—presenting to a crowd of 100 or larger doesn’t faze him. This is one of the ways that Bill makes my job easy. I have full confidence that he will do an excellent job, no matter where we send him to represent Habitat.

When talking with Bill, it’s easy to see that he is most passionate about the Student Build, and he is quick to attribute credit for the project to Charlie Franck (another outstanding core volunteer, who we hope to introduce you to in a later post). The Student Build is, essentially, a coalition of local private schools that raise money and awareness for Habitat (currently Asheville Christian Academy, Christ School,Carolina Day School and The Franklin School of Innovation). They have funded three full-house sponsorships for $55,000 each, and for each build, have provided student volunteers (age 16+) to help build the house. These schools incorporate Habitat and service learning into their curriculum. There is a lot more to it, but that’s the basic explanation.

Bill met Charlie on the jobsite in Swannanoa just after the first Habitat Student Build House had wrapped up, and offered to help on the second house. With his background in education it seemed to be a perfect fit. Now, as we approach the closing of the third Student Build House, Bill is still happily on board. As you would expect from a former teacher, Bill has a desire to see others succeed, and through his involvement with the Student Build, he sees first-hand just how transformative the work with Habitat and the future homeowners has been for the students. Here what he has to say in this video. (His remarks start at 2:40.)

I asked Bill to share with me a particular memory from volunteering that he is fond of. He explained that he can’t share just one moment, because the effect of the Student Build is continuous and encompassing. He said, “I am just blown away, constantly, by how mature these kids are beyond their years. To understand there are needs that people have, and they have a joy of wanting to help meet those needs…every time I see these kids interacting on the jobsite with the new homeowner families, I am just overwhelmed and so happy to be involved and to be a small part of this.

[Along with academics, arts, and athletics] there’s a piece missing in working with kids, and that is, you need to connect with other folks. You need to realize that you’re here by the grace of God to give back, because you’re able to give back. And once we put that piece, now called Service Learning, into our curriculum in my school in Atlanta, we watched kids become adults in front of us. Not just good students in the classroom, wonderful athletes on the athletic field, or musicians and artists. But adults.”

Bill went on to explain that he is seeing that here, too, with all the schools involved. Bill plays an important role with the Student Build. Along with coaching the students on the Student Build Leadership Team, he gives presentations to the schools to help de-mystify Habitat’s work. Affordable homeownership, Asheville’s housing crisis, mortgages…these are not topics that your average elementary-to-high school-aged student thinks about, let alone, understands. But Bill makes it interesting for them, and explains how their fundraising and volunteer work is making a difference in our community. He adds fuel to their fire. And this information has made its way into the school’s curriculum. The work that these students do is impressive. Bill says, “This whole thing has been a real joy.”

Bill and his wife Margie have been married for 43 years and they have have two grown children, Neil and Mary Beth. Bill affirmed that he is a lucky man.

After living in Atlanta for decades, they moved to Asheville to be nearer to family. “When I was growing up as a youngster, I knew I wanted to retire and live in Asheville because we spent a week every summer here for vacation. And I grew up in Wilmington, North Carolina— which is a beautiful place, but it is hot as Hades from April until September!” Growing up without air conditioning, Bill said he didn’t know what he was missing until he came to the mountains and it was so nice and cool at night. “So, I said, sort of subconsciously, this is a place I want to come to.”

It seems Bill has found his stride and is enjoying retirement. And I’m happy that Asheville has become more to him than a place with a temperate climate: it is a place where he continues to make a difference and instill in others a desire to achieve excellence.

Volunteering as Job Skills Training

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By Rachel Rasmussen

Jesse Trimbach initially reached out about volunteering with Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity (AAHH) because he was seeking more date entry experience. Since he started volunteering in Habitat’s administrative office in February 2016, he’s also enjoyed making friends with the staff and learning about Habitat’s work in the community.

Every Tuesday morning, Jesse logs on to the computer at his desk and gets to work entering ReStore donor information into Habitat’s database. A product donation to the ReStore triggers many behind-the-scene steps that help get a piece of furniture to the sales floor and a thank-you letter in the donor’s hands. Jesse specializes in the step that captures the appropriate ReStore donor contact information so that the donor can stay connected with the work Habitat is doing to help homeowners achieve stability through affordable housing.

When asked about one of his favorite memories of volunteering with Habitat, Jesse immediately recounted the afternoon he spent with other office volunteers on an educational tour of the Shiloh neighborhood. During the past 20 years, Asheville Area Habitat has built more than 40 single-family homes in Shiloh, and in current latest Shiloh: Let’s Build! initiative, Habitat is building 15 more new houses and completing 30 Home Repair projects. In order to highlight the strength of the Shiloh neighborhood and Habitat’s Home Repair program, administrative staff organized a tour for office volunteers to see the community impact of their volunteer commitment.

Volunteering at Habitat has also impacted Jesse. He says that he’s “getting more experience with data entry” and will eventually be looking for a job. Jesse isn’t the only volunteer who sees his time spent at Habitat as part of his job skills training. Asheville Area Habitat partners with AmeriCorps, UNCA, Hands and Feet of Asheville, and other organizations to offer internships and job training volunteer opportunities.

While Jesse strengthens his database and computer skills while volunteering at Habitat, he also does data entry volunteer work every week at the Western North Carolina AIDS Project. When not volunteering, he enjoys going for walks by himself, taking the bus around Asheville, and visiting his parents. Jesse says that he would recommend volunteering at Asheville Area Habitat “because it’s a friendly community and people are very helpful.”

If you’re interested in volunteering with Asheville Habitat, please click here to learn more and sign up.

150 Houses and Counting

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By Sammie Smith

In the past 14 years, Bill Durant (above right), a core construction volunteer, has worked on more than 150 Habitat for Humanity houses between Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity and Henderson County Habitat for Humanity! After 12 years of working with Habitat in Henderson County, he moved to Deerfield Retirement Community in Asheville and soon picked up where he left off – building houses with Habitat. After working with Deerfield on Asheville Habitat’s Episcopal Build a year and a half ago, Bill continues to volunteer on the Asheville Habitat construction site every Friday morning.

Bill has a degree in chemical engineering from Auburn University and spent his 40 year career at the Savannah River Site nuclear research and development laboratory. His expertise was in the development of techniques for quantitative risk assessment and accident prevention for nuclear and chemical processes. So his focus on safety has major value on our active construction site, where safety is a top priority.

Upon retirement, Bill was seeking a volunteer opportunity that matched his skillset and would make a positive impact on the lives of others. “I keep coming back (to Habitat) because I believe it was God’s calling for me and that He has continued to bless me with good health so that I can do the job.”

“What I enjoy most about Habitat are the friends I make and seeing the positive impact on the lives of others.” Bill also spoke of the camaraderie with his crew and how they frequently gather for pot luck dinners where they can get to know the families in a relaxing and cordial environment. “I met my closest friend through Habitat,” he shared.

Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity relies on our core volunteers to be advocates for us. Bill knows the importance of this and has actively recruited several people to volunteer with Habitat. “On numerous occasions I have taken prospective volunteers to see what we have done in the past, the houses we are currently building, the support facilities and personnel, and tell them about the tools they need. Most people sign up on the spot.”

In speaking about the impact that Habitat has on his life, Bill said, “It gives me a great feeling of purpose especially when I drive through existing Habitat developments and see the kids playing and I know that they have a much better life thanks to Habitat volunteers and donors.”

“I am only one of the many who show up week after week to help make the Habitat homeownership dream possible. I have reached 150 houses only because of longevity, the sweat of my colleagues, the guidance of the site construction supervisors, and the blessings of my Lord and Savior. Thanks for the opportunity.”

The Habitat model wouldn’t function without committed volunteers like Bill. Working on 150 houses – directly helping 150 families – is truly remarkable and Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity is grateful for your hard work and dedication!

Interested in volunteering with Asheville Habitat? Click here to learn more or sign up.

A Friendly Face at the Front Desk

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Barbara Cooper has been volunteering at the administrative office of Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity since January 2016. We recently sat down with Barb to learn about her volunteer experience.

Habitat: Why did you decide to volunteer for Asheville Area Habitat?

Barb: Habitat’s mission connected with me on a personal level, and I wanted to give back the hope and help I was thankful enough to receive since I’ve been in WNC. Asheville has become a new start – a safe place – for my daughter and I, and I wanted to be a part of the journey of making that happen for others.

Habitat: What does a typical volunteer shift look like for you?

Barb: I volunteer every Thursday from 11am to 3pm at the front desk in the administrative building. The day always flies by so quickly. I am answering phones and directing inquiries, filing paperwork, inputting information into spreadsheets, and sending out thank you postcards to donors. Sometimes I help out on special projects staff members asked me to do… and always with a smile on my face!

Habitat: How do you spend your time when you’re not volunteering with Asheville Area Habitat?

Barb: I am enjoying my retirement. For the most part, I spend free time with my family because they are the most important people to me. I’m also in the process of training for a 5K race in September. Please wish me luck, I’ll need it!

Habitat: Do you have a specific story from volunteering that stands out to you?

Barb: One particular Thursday, there was a big group of people meeting in the large conference room. Needless to say, there was a lot of traffic in the ladies and men’s restrooms. Evidently, one of the men’s bathrooms got backed up, and one of the members from the meeting came to me and reported the problem. I asked him if there was a plunger and he said he didn’t see one. So I took it upon myself to go in and rectify the situation. When the men’s bathroom was fixed, I went back to my desk to do more work for an hour. Then a woman came to me and told me the ladies restroom had a similar issue. I just chuckled to myself and marched back in to the bathroom to resolve that problem. Once that was done, I went back to my desk and told my supervisor about what had transpired. She laughed, thanked me for what I did, and said “It was not in your job description. You went over and beyond the call of duty.” As you can imagine, that’s one memory I will never forget!

Habitat: How do you see your volunteering as a part of Habitat’s mission to “bring people together to build homes, communities, and hope”?

Barb: Habitat’s mission is extraordinary, and I have the privilege of being a part of it. My job as a volunteer in the administration building is to be open, welcoming, receptive, and kind. I connect with people, as well as direct inquiries and provide educational material if they ask for it. I might be the very first person they see on their journey to a new home and a new life. If I can give them hope and put a smile on their face, I believe I will continue to play a positive role in Habitat’s mission.

Habitat: How has volunteering at Habitat impacted you?

Barb: Habitat has given me an opportunity to grow as a person by giving back to the community. I truly look forward to every Thursday because I know the work I do makes a positive difference. Also, I’m very thankful I found Habitat because it’s been an amazing platform that has helped me develop and utilize my clerical skills.

Habitat: What would you say to someone who is considering volunteering at Asheville Habitat?

Barb: I would say go for it! My experience has been nothing but positive and I imagine the same can be said for anyone else that begins volunteering at Asheville Habitat.

Today, we’re thanking Barb for her commitment to Asheville Area Habitat and her service to everyone who enters Habitat’s doors in the pursuit of decent and affordable housing.

Interested in volunteering with us? Click here to learn more or sign up.