Asheville Habitat Accepts Environmental Excellence Award

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By Andy Barnett, Executive Director

“What is the use of a house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on?”

― Henry David Thoreau, Familiar Letters (1860)

Asheville Habitat doesn’t think of itself as an environmental organization, so it came as a little bit of a shock to receive a 2019 Environmental Excellence Award from Asheville Greenworks this spring.  Our understanding of a safe, healthy affordable home is so intertwined with the notion of a “tolerable planet” that it goes unnoticed and unremarked.

Like most of the social justice solutions our community seeks, affordable housing and environmental stewardship are not competing interests. They are “yes, and” solutions. For example, your furniture donation to the ReStore diverts waste from the landfill AND builds affordable homes. When Habitat builds a new home, achieving high energy performance standards reduces our community’s energy use AND saves the homeowner money. Replacing an obsolete heating system in a home reduces the energy demand from our aging housing stock AND it means that an elder in our community can age in place safely and with dignity.

I am grateful for this award as a reminder of the impact of our choices, and a reminder that the best solutions solve multiple problems. As one of many like-minded businesses and organizations advancing environmental stewardship and sustainability in our community, I’m honored that GreenWorks bestowed Asheville Habitat with an award this year.

 

Photo by Angela Wilhelm, Citizen Times

Proud Recipient of the Parsec Prize

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Parsec Prize Winner 2019 Logo

We are thrilled to be one of nine non-profits to receive the Parsec Prize from Parsec Financial in 2019! Other winners were: OnTrack Financial Education & Counseling, Food Connection, Working Wheels, Asheville Art Museum, Susan G. Komen Charlotte, Arts Council of Moore County, Conserving Carolina, and Senior Services

The Parsec Prize was started in 2005 by Parsec Financial in Asheville, NC. The purpose of the Parsec Prize is to help local non-profits further their missions and improve our communities.

Asheville Habitat plan to use the funds to increase our capacity and expand our Home Repair program, a critical program that preserves existing affordable housing stock and enables low-income homeowners to remain in their homes as they age.

 

Congrats to our Homegrown Leaders!

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Asheville Habitat’s Cassidy Moore (L) and Beth Russo (R) recently graduated from Homegrown Leaders program, a regional leadership and economic development program that develops and supports highly-motivated leaders who are committed to building regional collaboration across multi-county regions in the state. Homegrown Leaders is a program of the Rural Center and is sponsored by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and corporate, government and philanthropic partners.

NC Rural Center President, Patrick Woodie, presented certificates to the program’s 29 graduates on the last day of training. “Rural leaders like our Homegrown Leaders graduates are critical to the long-term growth and vitality of North Carolina’s communities,” said Woodie of this class of graduates.

Class participants included economic development professionals, educators, and civic and nonprofit leaders. “The Rural Center promotes leadership that is inclusive, connected, informed and creative. These graduates will join the Rural Center’s leadership alumni network of over 1,200 rural leaders across the state of North Carolina,” said Bronwyn Lucas, director of leadership for the NC Rural Center.

“This was an incredible learning experience. From developing new relationships with peers across the region, to discovering both new and long-existing programs in our area, I learned valuable information and skills to put to use in Western North Carolina. I also left refreshed – because it was so encouraging and inspiring to see so many talented and passionate people implementing and sustaining programs to make our communities safer and stronger,” noted Russo.

Three additional Homegrown Leaders trainings will take place across the Appalachian Regional Commission’s NC counties over the next year with the next one scheduled for May 29-31, 2019 at Western Carolina University. For more information, visit the Rural Center’s website.

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

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.

 

Celebrating Those Who Share Their Time and Talent

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Volunteers support Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity staff and homeowner families in every aspect of their work. Last year, 2,000 volunteers contributed more than 60,000 hours of service – at a value of more than $1.38 million, according to independentsector.org. Another way to look at it: the hours contributed by volunteers equates to having an additional 28 staff members working 40 hours each week!

Volunteers have been receiving notes, small gifts and special treats through out the week, as well as free lunch. Local SUBWAY® restaurant owners are again saluting approximately 2,000 Habitat for Humanity volunteers by providing boxed lunches at Habitat work sites in Asheville and across the Carolinas.

And there is no better time than this week to mention milestones. Two core volunteers, Joe Kane (ReStore) and Bob Swartz (Construction) have reached the 15 year milestone; Core construction volunteer Bill Kantonen, known as “singing Bill”, is celebrating 20 years as a volunteer with Asheville Area Habitat; and ReStore volunteers Jan Wright and Allen Laws have been volunteering for 25 years! Habitat is grateful for the commitment of these folks, and of all volunteers, whether they have helped once, or they help once a week.

Some fun facts about Habitat volunteers:

  • In 2015, through programs such as Global Village and Collegiate Challenge as well as the signature “Before the Jam, Lend a Hand” volunteer event, Asheville Area Habitat hosted volunteers from 31 different U.S. states!
  • Habitat utilizes about 135 volunteers in the ReStore each week.
  • It takes 1,650 hours of volunteer labor to build one Habitat house.
  • Core construction volunteers (those who volunteer on a weekly or bi-weekly basis) contributed 68% of total construction volunteer hours in 2015!

And if this isn’t enough, hear what our 12 month intern Emily Stevens has to say about Habitat and volunteerism in this short video clip.

Want to get involved? Please click here to learn more about volunteering and how to sign up. Thanks!

 

 

 

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Middle School Student Wins 3D Printing Contest!

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On Saturday, December 5th, the Asheville Habitat ReStore announced the winner of its 2nd annual “Habitat for the Holidays: 3D Printed Ornament Contest”, kicking off sales of the 3D printed winning design in the store. Jacob Whitten, a 7th grade student at Enka Middle School, was named this year’s winner out of more than 60 entries. He won a free 3D print of his design and had the choice of either a $100 ReStore gift card or a 3Doodler, a pen that prints in 3D. (He chose the latter.) His winning design is for sale for $5 per ornament at the Habitat ReStore, while supplies last. All proceeds of ReStore sales help support Habitat’s building programs.

Whitten submitted his design as an assignment in his “Project Lead the Way” class at Enka Middle School. A national provider of science, technology, engineering, and math programs, Project Lead the Way courses are designed to prepare students for a post-secondary education and careers in the global economy (pltw.org). In his submission, Whitten wrote that his ornament should be chosen “because of its spirit” and includes “the very special Peace House, to show the homes by Habitat for Humanity”. His ornament, depicting a snowman next to the house with mountains in the background, showcased the themes of the holidays in WNC and Habitat for Humanity, a requirement of the contest.

The fairly new contest is gaining attention: with only a handful of entries its first year, this year marked a surprising uptick with more than 60 entries. Although marketed both locally and nationally, most design submissions remained local, ranging from students to retirees.

A panel of judges objectively critiqued each ornament based on printability, creativity, aesthetics, and the theme relating to Habitat for Humanity and the holidays in Western North Carolina. Amateur designers were encouraged to enter the contest, and Spectra3D Technologies, the local 3D printing company sponsoring the contest, held a live webinar and posted links to free training and software resources on the contest’s webpage.

Next year’s submission timeline will run from October 1st until Thanksgiving. Check back here for details!

Asheville Area Habitat Volunteer Receives Statewide Award

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(extracted from NCHC press release)

At the recent NC Affordable Housing Conference in Raleigh, NC the North Carolina Housing Coalition (NCHC) honored individuals who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to help ensure North Carolinians have a safe and decent place to call home. Asheville Area Habitat’s own Spencer Duin (pictured, holding plaque) was the recipient of a statewide volunteer award! 

In recognition of his devotion and commitment to improving housing conditions for low-income families through volunteer commitment and sacrifice, NCHC presented the Sister Barbara Sullivan Award to Spencer. He has been an extraordinary volunteer and advocate for Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity (AAHH) since 2001, when he was employed with the Eaton Corporation. He has served as a jobsite volunteer, a member of the AAHH Board of Directors, Finance Committee, Golf Tournament Committee and Fund Development Committee, and on a work team that went to New Orleans in 2007. Spencer also chaired our $5 million Building a Way Home Campaign which was just successfully completed. This campaign provided enough land for 9 years of building, expanded AAHH’s ReStore and launched a Home Repair program that annually assists 40 community homeowners.

Outside of AAHH, Spencer serves on the North Dakota State University Foundation Board and chairs their Investment Committee. He also volunteered as an assistant in the math program at the French Broad River Academy. He and his wife Carol are active members of their local faith community and Building Bridges of Asheville, NC, and have a long history as foster care parents.

NCHC also honored Patricia “Pat” Garrett, formerly with The Affordable Housing Group and current NC Housing Finance Agency Board Member, with the Bill Rowe Service to Affordable Housing Award.

“Each of these leaders is a tremendous example of the great network of organizations and individuals who are working hard every day to produce more quality affordable housing in NC,” said Satana Deberry, NCHC Executive Director. “We need our political leaders to recognize the great work that is happening in affordable housing and provide more resources and governmental support so that everyone in NC can achieve an affordable place to live.  If we are going to remain a state with a great quality of life, planning for superior affordable housing near where people work and shop will be vital.  Each of these folks recognized today represent the work we need to build on if we are to make this a reality.”

 

And the winners are…

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Congratulations to the winners of the 2015 ReStore ReUse Contest!

 

Best in Show – Paul Willard
Willard_tree house_BEST IN SHOWTree house built with recycled materials
“I redesigned and expanded a deck for a family with three young boys. Talk of a tree house was heard and I began stockpiling materials for the tree house. Old deck was harvested and 2×4, 2×6 and 2×2 materials were utilized in the tree house. Trex deck boards were reused, and 1000 sq feet of surplus deconstructed Trex was donated to Habitat. Siding is 1×6 fence boards from old fence torn down on site. Octagonal windows are salvaged. Interior bench was rescued from the dumpster. Columns are old antique table legs. Main deck of tree house surrounds a huge silver maple, and crows nest climbs into a smaller maple next to it.”


 

Homesteading – Ferrin Cole
F Cole_aquaponic system_HOMESTEADINGSymbiotic aquaponic system
“Using scrap plumbing from a job-site, plastic trays I found by a dumpster, an old bakers rack, a $12 pond pump, and an old coca-cola insulated drink bin, I made this. Raised Tilapia in the drink bin, and pumped the water with the nutrient-rich fish fertilizer in it to the top tray on the rack. Then gravity pulls the water from tray to tray, feeding plants until it reaches the tank again. Plants grow quickly in the soil-free pea gravel gathered and rinsed from an old landscaping project. The whole system is portable, able to work indoors, and all you do is feed the fish then eat them and the veggies.”


 

Live and/or Work Space – David and Kim Hostetter
Hostetter_indoor off the grid pool_LIVE WORKIndoor “off the grid” pool house
“I built our “off the grid” pool house in four months using old windows, door and re-purposed wood. The windows and clear roof give it a greenhouse effect, which, with the black painted pool, keeps the water at a nice 80 degrees.”

 

 

 

 


 

Paige_garden bench_FURNITUREFurniture – Paige D.
Garden bench

“I made a bench out of an old bed frame I found on the side of the road, in someone’s trash! I cut the foot board in half and attached each half to either end of the headboard to serve as the armrests. I made a box see out of cheap lumber from Lowe’s and covered the seat part with scraps from the cuts. Lastly, I chose to paint in in old fashioned Milk Paint. Talk about Junk to Jewel!”


People’s Choice – Carla Berlin
Berlin_mobile potting cart_PEOPLES CHOICEMobile Potting Cart
“I purchased an old white bathroom cabinet from the Restore and used this as the base for my project. I used donated pallet wood, tile that was on sale because it was a broken box, paint that was rejected by another person and left on a sale bin, stain that I used on another piece of furniture, the original drawer pull and door knob that I repainted with spray paint that I picked up at an estate sale to match other hooks that I had picked up at Restore and were collecting dust until the right plan came along. One of my friends asked me if I could make a Potting Cart – now I love it so much, I cannot sell it!”

 

 

Click here to view all of the 2015 contest entries.

ReStore Manager Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

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DSC_0011At the recent national Habitat for Humanity Affiliate Conference in Atlanta, retired Asheville Habitat ReStore Manager Jay Sloan (L) was bestowed a Lifetime Achievement Award. He was one of three recipients nationwide to receive this prestigious award. Frank Reed, Senior Director of ReStore Support at Habitat for Humanity International acknowledged Sloan’s accomplishments and mentioned how the Asheville ReStore stands as an example for ReStores across the nation.

Jay Sloan managed the Asheville Habitat ReStore from 1999 to late 2012 when he began his succession plan and became Donations Manager until his retirement in June 2014. During his time as General Manager he oversaw a relocation of the store from its original Biltmore Avenue space to its current location at 31 Meadow Road, and in 2011, a major renovation of the store that doubled its square footage. By the time he retired, the Asheville ReStore was running smoothly with 160 volunteers each week, and was ranked the #3 ReStore in the nation for gross sales in one store (out of over 775 ReStores). Under his leadership, sales increased more than 800% during his 13 year tenure!

“Jay brought more than a background in big-box retail to our organization in 1999. He brought the knowledge and deep understanding that every dollar of ReStore revenue enables us to serve more families in Buncombe County. Jay communicated that sense of mission to ReStore staff, volunteers, donors and customers. When you couple retail experience with passion for the mission you see the results. Today, the Asheville ReStore is the #2 ReStore in the nation,” stated Lew Kraus, Executive Director.

A video of Sloan that was shown at the award ceremony can be viewed here.