Is a Qualifying Charitable Distribution (QCD) Right for You?

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By Skip Helms, Asheville Habitat Legacy Builders Society Member, former Asheville Habitat Board Member, and President of Helms Wealth Management, LLC

As the end of the year approaches, we want to proactively thank you for considering Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity in your giving budget. We appreciate your generosity and will always use your gifts wisely.

Donors over the age of 70 ½ now have some new opportunities. For many years, the tax code has allowed people over that tender age to transfer up to $100,000 a year from their Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) to qualifying charities like Habitat. The gift is a direct pass-through. The charity gets all of the money and there are no taxes due.

People over 70 have to take Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) from their account every year. If you transfer some or all of that mandatory withdrawal to a qualifying charity, it isn’t considered taxable income.

The provision is called the Qualifying Charitable Distribution (QCD) and donors have been using it for some time now. Recent tax law changes just made it much more important.

The standard deduction has doubled from $6,000 to $12,000 per person or $24,000 for couples. That’s good news. Only about 5% of Americans will still itemize their deductions this year.

Donors over age 70 can increase their tax savings by carefully choosing which account to use for gifts. They still have to take required IRA distributions. If they will be better off using the standard deduction and not itemizing their charitable gifts, giving through their IRA keeps that portion of those withdrawals from becoming taxable income. It’s almost like deducting it twice by checking a different box on the distribution form. Here’s a short example:

You only ever own most of an IRA.  The government owns the rest. You have to pay them their share when you spend it, or your family has to pay them later.  But if you give your portion to charity, you can give them the government’s money too.

That makes IRAs attractive for current giving. It makes them great for legacy planning since your family will get an updated cost basis on your other assets.

Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity can do wonderful things with your generous gift but we are not financial or tax planners. We encourage you to speak with qualified advisors who know your situation. Please call Kit Rains at 828.210.9365 to let us know how we can help.

Thank you again for thinking of Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity and we hope you will forward this link to friends who have questions about supporting Habitat or other great organizations.

 

The Unpaid Bills… But Not the Kind You’re Thinking

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By Sydney Monshaw

Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity has many unpaid Bills – but not the kind you’re thinking. These Bills have chosen to be left unpaid, donating their time and energy, often a few times a week, to help build and repair homes for families, primarily in Buncombe county. Though one Bill volunteers in Henderson County, too! There are seven Bills in total, but as Bill Durant a Friday Core volunteer mused, “Comparable to the stack on my desk – both are increasing.” While this group started as something silly to refer to the growing number of core volunteers named Bill who receives their pay in the form of gratitude and sore muscles, The Unpaid Bills has become an identity for these men who make up a community within the larger group of weekly Core Habitat construction volunteers.

Bill Reid, Bill Ryan, Bill Winkler, part of the Thursday core volunteers

Bill Lineberry

This group of dedicated Bills ranges in years of experience, some having as many as 15 years as a volunteer. The rookie Bill, also the medical Bill (a retired doctor), will be celebrating his one year anniversary as a core volunteer this December. Most, however, fall somewhere in the middle, with about 7 years of service on average. At least one Bill is out on the new home construction job site almost every day of the week! On Mondays Bill Winkler represents the “Unpaid Bills,” Tuesday Bill Bechtold and Bill McDowall hold down the fort, Thursday Bill Winkler joins Bill Reid and Bill Ryan for his second shift of the week, and on Friday Bill Durant, Bill Kantonen, and Bill Lineberry are working hard to close out the week. All of these Bills are committed to building a better future, one day at a time.

When asked what they enjoy most about volunteering, here is what a few Bills had to say:

“I enjoy all aspects of volunteering -The work fits my desired activities and skill set; the other volunteers and staff are exactly the type of people I enjoy being around – the BEST! The satisfaction of contributing to the Asheville community is highly rewarding.” – Bill Winkler (Tuesday, Thursday)

“I enjoy most the camaraderie with my fellow volunteers and in helping people who are willing to try to improve their situation in life.” – Bill Durant (Friday)

Bill Durant

“Helping folks, camaraderie of the build teams, and learning how to build/repair things the right way. (Also the nutritious break time snacks.)” – Bill Reid (Thursday)

“Helping deserving people have a home of their own while working with great bunch of people. It has also been a great hands-on learning experience. Although I had done some construction work and have a General Contractors License, I was surprised at how little I really knew.”– Bill McDowall (Tuesday)

Bill McDowall

“There are multiple factors that I like about volunteering, foremost among these are:

  1. The efficiency of the Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity Organization
  2. The professionalism of Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity staff
  3. The camaraderie among Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity volunteers
  4. The opportunity to contribute to the local community in a meaningful way.” – Bill Bechtold (Tuesday)

Bill Bechtold

 

“What I like best is the combination of fun work that benefits the community and the opportunity to work with great future homeowners (super folks), great staff, and great volunteers. Making a difference.” – Bill Ryan (Thursday)

Bill Kantonen

You would never know that the Bills go unpaid at Habitat. They work with integrity and commitment, living out the mission of Habitat – bringing people together to build homes, communities, and hope. For them, it is about so much more than the lumber, nails, paint, and shingles that create a house – it is about the community, camaraderie, and sense of belonging that truly builds a home. Bill Bechtold captured perfectly the feeling of being one of the “Unpaid Bills.” He said, “Being an Unpaid Bill reminds me to feel grateful that I am healthy enough and fortunate enough to do something meaningful in the community for people who deserve a hand up.”

Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity is fortunate to have so many unpaid Bills who keep coming back week after week. They, like all of the core volunteers, take home their pay stubs in the form of muddy boots and strong friendships, and they wouldn’t have it any other way.

From Surviving to Thriving

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By Bill DuPre, Habitat for Humanity NC

It’s a steep walk up the drive to Will and Savannah Alshaer’s new home in Mars Hill, NC. But once you’re there you can see a long way.

Vision was a big topic at the home’s dedication in late October. The tidy three-bedroom, two bath home is the first project in years for the Madison County Habitat for Humanity affiliate. It was built with help from the Asheville Habitat affiliate and a big boost from the State Employees Credit Union Foundation’s $10 million Mountains-to-the-Sea Challenge – to build a Habitat for Humanity home in each of North Carolina’s 100 counties.

“It’s been really great for us to be a part of bringing Habitat for Humanity back to Madison County,” said Andy Barnett, executive director of the Asheville Habitat affiliate. “A couple of years ago, SECU reached out to North Carolina” with an audacious idea to take Habitat to places in the state that had never benefited from Habitat’s global reach.

“No state has done this,” Barnett said. “But it did something even more important. It helped us look at our vision differently. Somehow Habitat for Humanity has figured how to work in 50 or 60 countries around the world but we haven’t figured out how to work together across the county line.”

That comment brought laughs from the dedication crowd, but Barnett was serious about the need. “To make sure that everywhere in our region benefits, we’re sharing the resources we have with each other to make sure that our mission that everyone has a place to call home can really happen. If that can happen in Guatemala and Bangladesh it ought to be able to happen in Madison and McDowell and Swain county.”

That’s where SECU’s vision created a spark.“Sometimes organizations just need a bit of push,” Barnett said. It was a big push for the Madison affiliate; once the Alshaer family assumes a zero-percent-interest loan from SECU, the money will be returned to the affiliate so that another home can be built.

For Savannah and Will, parents of Lyla and her younger sister Violet, move-in day, set for mid-November, will be a blessing. “Thank you to everybody who made this happen,” Savannah told the dedication crowd. “This is definitely a life-changing event. It’s bringing us out of a nasty cycle and it’s going to give us a boost so we can flourish in this community and set down permanent roots and feel much more secure as a family.”

The couple have a long history together: Will and Savannah met in a 10th-grade horticulture class. While the attraction was mutual, they were still young, so for a time they went their separate ways. Savannah went on to earn a degree in art education while Will became an expert mechanic. When their paths crossed again, they realized that they were much better together than apart. They married and moved to Mars Hill, a quaint college town of about 1,600 souls 20 miles north of Asheville.

On this day, the clarity of that decision was evident.“This takes so much stress away,” she continued, “so we can do good things for this community instead of just surviving. We’re excited to be here and so grateful we can raise our kids in this town. I was always drawn here as a child. I can’t believe it’s happening.”

 

 

A Light Bulb Came On

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By Marty Steinberg

A light bulb came on: it used less energy while helping to build affordable homes and it saved its purchasers a whole bunch of money. What a great idea!

The Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity ReStore sells energy efficient light emitting diode (LED) light bulbs at deeply discounted rates. While many energy-saving measures involve a high up-front cost, purchasing LED bulbs at the ReStore allows homeowners to save both energy and money right away.

During a recent 12 month period, the Asheville ReStore sold nearly 80,000 LED light bulbs. General Manager Scott Stetson estimates that customers have saved a whopping $758,325 during that one-year period by purchasing bulbs at the ReStore. “I’m proud to represent Habitat for Humanity and play a role in reducing, reusing and recycling,” Stetson said. “And this energy-saving program helps us take it to a new level.”

How many of those customers does it take to change one of those light bulbs? Just one, but she will need to do it less often because the LED bulb last fifteen times longer than the incandescent. Available at the ReStore for as little as a dollar each, the bulbs have become a popular item with ReStore shoppers.

Not all of the bulbs sold at the ReStore are 60-watt bulb equivalents. In fact, the store carries a variety of styles and wattages, including energy efficient lighting fixtures. Customers will find a large selection and great prices on all of the store’s efficient lighting products.

ReStore Processing Supervisor Eric Tamila has overseen the energy efficient lighting program since 2013 as the program has grown. “The potential for our customers to save money while saving energy is tremendous,” said Tamila. People are definitely taking advantage of it but we definitely want to continue getting the word out.”

For some, the most important savings from changing to LED light bulbs is the reduction in carbon dioxide that it takes to keep those bulbs lit. LED bulbs use 90% less energy than incandescent bulbs. While ReStore customers are saving money, tons of pollutants are kept from entering the atmosphere.

The brand new LED bulbs are supplied at no cost to the ReStore thanks to a program in which Duke Energy Progress pays for the light bulbs ordered by the ReStore. Duke Energy Progress customers use less energy meaning the utility may not need to add additional power generating capacity as soon as it would otherwise. Profits from the sale of energy efficient LED bulbs at the ReStore go directly to Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity to help build and repair homes in partnership with hard-working local families.

At a recent event to publicize the program, 234 ReStore customers learned about the benefits of LED light bulbs and what types of bulbs would best suit their needs and they were able to purchase the bulbs at the discounted ReStore price. Additional events will be held in the future to keep building interest in the program.

Saving time, energy and money, and helping build affordable homes: all while shopping at the Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity ReStore. What a great idea!

And the Winners are…

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The Asheville Habitat ReStore is pleased to announce the winners of its seventh annual ReStore ReUse Contest. Ranging from fire pits and bars to pet beds and benches and everything in between, the 32 entries were constructed predominantly of reused materials. A panel of five judges selected winners in six categories: Furniture, Homesteading, Live/Work Space, Home Décor, Youth, and Best in Show. A winner was also selected in an added category, Community Contribution. The 2018 winners are:

Best in Show – Philip Davis (Waynesville); A beautiful bar crafted from a piece of a 100 year old equestrian barn door and salvaged pallets and recycled metal pipe and iron.

Furniture – David Devine (Anderson, SC); A garden chair for his daughter crafted from recycled junk metal.

Homesteading – Gigi Presta (Weaverville); A greenhouse constructed of old doors from the ReStore, a dome top seen/found in a ditch while cycling, and wood scraps.

Live/Work Space – Jill Adams (Asheville); Turned an area that was a catchall for junk into an outside bar, entertainment area, and closet made from primarily salvaged wood.

Home Decor – Cindee and John Rudel (Asheville); A wood mural that references the mountains, trees, plants, streams and swimming holes that they love. It was crafted from recycled wood and scraps that were found during the renovation of their home. “We were inspired to create this wall for our sitting room in homage to the decades that Cindee’s grandfather (the previous owner of the house) spent working for the Drexel furniture plant starting in the 1940’s,” noted John.

Youth – Tootsie Jablonski (Candler); Called “Pine Play”, this loose-parts playground is made entirely of reused or creatively purposed materials that were donated from community members or Smith Mill Works. Although very simple, this area inspires hours of focused, team-work-driven play as children build and re-build to create whatever type of play they want.

Community Contribution – Michael Van Hall (Weaverville); In this added category, the winner was selected for the community resource he created for this neighborhood – a Little Free Library made from an old tool cabinet, salvaged cabinet doors, and salvaged stamped tin ceiling tile.

Photos of all entries, including the winners, can be seen in this FlickR album.

Entries were judged on quality of design and execution; replicability of concept; clarity of description; and quality of photos. Winner received gift certificates to the Habitat ReStore.

The judging panel included:
Scott Stetson, ReStore General Manager
Joel Johnson, Habitat’s Home Repair Manager
Blake Cloninger, VP of Biltmore Iron & Metal
Peter Steurer, ReUse Contest Winner (2017-Homesteading)
Elaine Sargent, Habitat homeowner and reuse enthusiast

A Concentrated Dose of Habitat

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The first week of September in South Bend, IN was what our Executive Director Andy Barnett affectionately coins “the Olympics of Habitat,” referencing the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project. An annual “Blitz Build” this event unites upwards of 600 individuals around the common vision of a world where everyone has a decent place to live. This year, the 35th annual Carter Work Project was hosted by Habitat for Humanity of St. Joseph County where volunteers built or improved 41 home in Mishawaka and South Bend, Indiana in one week.

Kenny Bush, our Senior Construction Supervisor and South Bend native, and our Construction Supervisor Emily Stevens led a team of Asheville Habitat volunteers on this epic Habitat trip. The Asheville team worked alongside others on House #20 amidst a block of twenty-two single family homes. 25-28 volunteers worked on each house, every day. “We started the day under a huge tent with breakfast, daily updates and logistics report, and a devotional. There were 600 people under the tent every morning,” Emily remarked about the magnitude. “Being amid of sea of so many like-minded volunteers was amazing. That kind of energy would be hard to create anywhere else. Everyone was so positive, well-intentioned and there because of the cause.”

A homecoming for Kenny, the trip was the same for Ralph Johnson, an Asheville Habitat construction volunteer who also hails from South Bend. In fact, the street they worked on was just a block from where he grew up. The rest of our volunteers comprised four different work days; so although Asheville core volunteers, many did not know each other beforehand. But you can be assured that this trip created lasting friendships among these cores who have come back to Asheville with an even greater passion for the work we all do.

Having participated in Carter Work Projects in the past, Andy noted that “they are a concentrated dose of Habitat and a reminder that every local affiliate is a small part of a global network.”

There were many memorable moments experienced by each volunteer, but the one that stands out in the entire team’s mind was the “big reveal”. Future homeowner Loretta Adams had not told her two daughters about their future Habitat home. When Jimmy Carter himself broke the news to the young girls in the front yard of their future home, there was not a dry eye in sight. The Asheville team then showed the girls around their house and they each picked out their bedrooms and started talking about paint colors. Mom did have to draw the line and say no to pink walls in the living room.

Next year’s Carter Work Project will be in Nashville, TN, a short 4 hour drive for interested folks from Western North Carolina.

To see photos, please click here.

A Year of Service

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We are thrilled to introduce our newest class of AmeriCorps members. We welcome Nora, Kaitlyn and Mackenzie to our team. Sydney and Janice were with us last year and have returned for a second term!

My name is Nora Gilmer and I’m from Piney Flats, TN. I love being outside, coffee, and my goofy dog Gertrude. Last year, I served with AmeriCorps NCCC, Pacific Region. My team traveled to Washington, the U.S. Virgin Islands, California, and Oregon. As my time with NCCC came to an end, I was very excited to have the opportunity to move a little closer to home and start another year of service with Habitat!

 

 

My name is Kaitlyn Ferdinande and I am from Michigan. I recently graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU). I was really involved in the Alternative Breaks program at SVSU and worked my way up from Participant to Site Leader, and then served as the Fundraising Coordinator. The program opened up my passion for Social Justice issues such as affordable housing. I also worked as the Volunteer Coordinator in SVSU’s Student Life Center. I have worked with Asheville Habitat in the past as part of Alternative Break, and I am excited to now serve as the Volunteer Services Coordinator for the nonprofit during my AmeriCorps term.

 

Hi! My name is Mackenzie Hampson, and I’m originally from Baltimore, MD but have lived in Charleston, SC for the past five years. I went to the College of Charleston and earned my degree in Finance. I was a year round swimmer for nine years, but now I just enjoy any fun way of staying active. I love being outside as much as possible, whether it’s going to the beach, hiking, running, etc. I also love working with and helping people, and have found that joy through Habitat. I participated in two Collegiate Challenge trips through Habitat for Humanity and I’m thrilled to be continuing for a whole year!

 

My name is Sydney Monshaw and I am thrilled to be serving a second term as a member of the Asheville Habitat Home Repair Team! I graduated from NYU in 2017 with a degree in Sociology and a minor in Poverty Studies. Throughout my time in college I had the opportunity to work at several different non-profits including Appalachia Service Project, Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City, and The Corporation for Supportive Housing. I have known for a long time that safe, affordable, sustainable housing for everyone is something that I am passionate about and I am excited to spend another year working to make homes around the Asheville Area safer, more accessible, and more livable for families.

 

My name is Janice Marie Payne. I am originally a native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, currently celebrating my 3rd year of residency in Asheville, NC and married to the best husband ever, Samuel. I have six siblings, one biological son, three step daughters and six grandchildren with my husband. Included in our family is Marty, my 9.5 lb. miniature Yorkie Terrier who I just happen to think he’s the smartest and cutest dog in Asheville!

Being a Pastor’s wife has proven to be one of the most fulfilling events of my life. It allows me to meet people and share my experience as a leading lady in the Church. Music and singing is a vital part of my life and I also enjoy Sudoku puzzles, reading, traveling, and experimental cooking.

I am currently serving my second term as an AmeriCorps Vista Outreach Coordinator at Asheville Habitat for Humanity. This position affords me the opportunity to educate the public about Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity’s affordable homeownership and home repair programs. The position has connected me to communities in Asheville in ways I could never have achieved on my own, and I enjoy meeting and collaborating with others for positive community change.

 

 

 

 

Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project

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ASHEVILLE, NC – On Saturday August 25th team of 10- two construction staffers and eight volunteers- left for St. Joseph County, IN to participate in the 35th annual Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project. This entire week the team is working alongside former President and former First Lady Carter, future homeowners, and hundreds of other volunteers from Indiana and around the world to build or improve 38 homes in Mishawaka and South Bend.

This is the first year Asheville Habitat has sent a team to the Carter Work Build, a transformative and inspirational project to build strength, stability and self-reliance through shelter. The team will build a house for future homeowner Loretta Adams, a mother of two. For Asheville Construction Supervisor Kenny Busch and core volunteer Ralph Johnson, the chance to leave an impact on this community is particularly special. They’re returning home.

“I am thrilled to have this opportunity and especially grateful to return to South Bend,” Johnson said. “Because I was born and raised there. My home is just a few blocks south of where we will be building.”

In 1984 the Carters led a Habitat for Humanity work group to New York, serving 19 families in need of safe, affordable housing. That was the inaugural Carter Work Project, which is now takes place every year in a different community around the world. The Carters have worked alongside over 100,000 volunteers in 14 countries to build decent and affordable shelter for all.

 

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When drug activity in her neighborhood led to increased violence, LaQuila Harris and her daughter began spending their days at work and school, and their evenings anywhere but at their apartment. It was exhausting and LaQuila knew they could not continue living like that.

Kedric Justice noticed increased drug activity and crime where he was living too. Having lost his own father to violence, he was painfully aware that crime wasn’t just something that happened to other people. And, his rent had sky-rocketed to $900/month.

Drug activity was on the rise where Staci Williams and her children were living too. And because it was an income-based apartment, she feared getting a raise at work.

Benitia Henson had to convert a closet under the stairs into a makeshift bedroom for her son.

A search for something better led all of these families to Habitat. Thank you for making the opportunity to purchase a safe, affordable Habitat house possible for local families. Together, we will empower 1,000 more families in the next decade to build better futures on safe, stable housing.

To view photos from the 4-house dedication, please click here.

Thank you to the businesses & individuals who sponsored these homes: Bank of America Merrill-Lynch, the coalition of local business that supported the Business Bungalow House, Eaton, Ernest & Shirley Ferguson, The Ferguson Family,  friends of Jerry and Lou Towson who sponsored a lot in their name, The Guthy Family, our Legacy Builders Society, Publix Supermarket Charities, The Pullium Foundation, and Wicked Weed.

 

 

Photos: Coming Together to Help a Neighbor

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Ms. Emma on her porch in front of the completed accessibility ramp, June 25.

At age 93, Ms. Emma Aiken is a mother, a grandmother, a great grandmother, a great great grandmother and a great great great grandmother. Her daughter, Carol, explains that there are 165 family members — which they believe is one the largest African American families in the area. Family reunions are outdoor affairs as no one’s home is large enough to host the entire family. While Asheville is home, Emma’s family extends from the mid-west up into the northeast, down to Hendersonville and beyond.

Emma moves around well for her age, but the stairs leading down from the front door of her West Chapel Road home proved to be tricky. That’s where Asheville Habitat’s Home Repair team came in. Our team, accompanied by Spectrum volunteers, built a 70′ accessibility ramp and did some minor repairs so Emma can continue to live in the home that holds all of her family memories.

On May 19, more than 20 volunteers from Spectrum spent their Saturday in the mud building sections of the ramp, landscaping, and digging holes for the ramp posts. Spectrum generously donated their time and money through the Spectrum Housing Assist program. Despite the wet weather, the volunteers were eager to work and worked together to complete different tasks. This was the most volunteers we have had on a Home Repair project to date!

“Since my husband passed I don’t have a lot of people out here,” Emma said. “So it was just amazing to see all the volunteers out here- they came out here to help me.”

Spectrum volunteers dig holes for the porch support beams, May 19.

The volunteers before the start of the project.

Emma waving to her neighbor from her front porch in front of the completed 70′ ramp, June 25.