Everyone deserves an opportunity to build a better future.

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Last holiday season, Shawntale’s reasons to move were many: an indifferent landlord, rising rent, and too little space for an active toddler. But most of all, she wanted to own her home so she could give her son a more stable future. In Asheville’s escalating housing market, her dreams of finding homeownership through conventional methods were out of reach. So she applied and was accepted into Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity’s homeownership program.

Morning after early morning, she finished a night shift as a Certified Nursing Assistant and then worked side-by-side with Habitat volunteers to build her home and the homes of her neighbors—once working 28 hours straight!

But before her Habitat house in Shiloh was finished, and with little notice, her landlord sold the apartment she was renting. With nowhere to live, she and her son crowded in with family until the house was complete, knowing this would be the last time their lives would hang on the whims of a landlord.

Now Shawntale is a proud homeowner, paying an affordable mortgage. She found the stability she longed for with the support of many Asheville Area Habitat donors and volunteers.

Shawntale looks forward to raising her son in the neighborhood where she grew up and giving back to Asheville’s historic Shiloh community through its active neighborhood association.

With your gift this holiday season, you can help 14 more families build stable homes in Shiloh and make a lasting investment in the neighborhood’s vitality.

Everyone deserves an opportunity to build a better future. And everyone can do something to make that possible for another family.

From Bookstore to Boardroom: How One Volunteer Serves Habitat

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By Kristen Keefer

It was over twelve years ago that Cassie Dillon (above, R) began her service at the Asheville ReStore. At the time, she was traveling throughout the week for work but was still determined to find time to serve her community. She pursued a weekend opportunity with the ReStore and since then, has become a core volunteer in the bookstore. A book and music enthusiast herself, she puts care into connecting with shoppers who frequent the bookstore. Cassie plays an important part in ensuring that every ReStore shopper has a delightful experience, but this is not her only involvement with Habitat.

In 2014, Cassie joined the ReStore Committee and has been creatively collaborating with other committee members to keep the ReStore at its best since. She has also served on the Fund Development Committee for over a year, helping brainstorm ways to raise funds for Habitat’s building programs as well as special campaigns like Shiloh: Let’s Build!

Recently, she was asked to join the Board of Directors, which she says has already been a fascinating experience. Cassie says that becoming a member of the Board has furthered her understanding of Asheville Habitat in its entirety. She explained, “There is so much that goes into Habitat – mortgage lending, construction services, operating the ReStore, and ultimately serving the community.”

She also had a recent opportunity to experience a homeowner closing firsthand. She reminisced about the homeowner’s excitement and how impactful hearing “zero percent interest” was when reviewing and signing the mortgage documents. This is the moment that Cassie – and all Habitat volunteers, staff, and homeowners work together towards; the moment when a family achieves their dream of affordable homeownership.

Upholding Habitat’s mission is at the core of Cassie’s devotion to her to many roles within Habitat. She said, “I’d recommend volunteering here to anyone who has free time that wants to serve their community. Volunteering with Habitat is a worthy use of anyone’s time!”

With over a decade of service under her belt, Cassie Dillon’s contributions across so many areas of the organization have been greatly impactful and are deeply appreciated. Thank you Cassie, for your unwavering service to Asheville Area Habitat and your community!

Fellow North Carolinians need our help!

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Fayetteville Area Habitat for Humanity and its community of homeowners have suffered a terrible fate in the wake of Hurricane Matthew. Of Fayetteville Habitat’s 154 homes, 93 Habitat houses have been flooded extensively, and 66 may be complete losses. “There are powerful and heartbreaking stories of families swimming out of their homes to reach rescuers, lost possessions, and the loss of beloved family pets. Habitat homeowners work hard to pay their mortgages but it will be difficult, in some cases impossible, for most of them to pay both a mortgage and also rent a place to live,” stated a representative from Fayetteville Habitat. Please keep these families in your hearts and prayers and read below to see how you can help.

Make a donation to Hurricane Relief/Fayetteville Habitat
DonateJoin us to help Habitat neighbors in need! Asheville Area Habitat is donating to the hurricane relief efforts of Fayetteville Habitat for Humanity in honor of our Board of Directors. We invite you to do the same. Donate online and select Hurricane Relief/Fayetteville Habitat in Area of Support. Thank you!

“Round Up” at the ReStore registers
From November 1st through December 31st donations collected through the register Round Up program will be donated to Fayetteville Habitat for Humanity for hurricane relief efforts. For example, if your purchase totals $9.40, please round up to $10.00. Small amounts can really add up to make a big difference!

Go to Fayetteville to volunteer
Please clear your calendar and join one of our service trips, if you’re able. The work will be basic demo/muck/gut. No experience necessary. Transportation and lodging will be provided. Some meals may be provided but each volunteer should be ready to pay the majority of their food expenses.
Sunday, November 13 (noon departure) – Friday, November 18 (dinnertime return) 4 ½ work days
OR
Thursday, December 1 (noon departure) – Sunday, December 4 (dinnertime return) 2 ½ work days.
Please email Stephanie asap if you’d like to participate.

Thank you for helping our fellow North Carolinians in need!

Hudson Hills is complete!

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“I come home each day through the street filled with smiling children on bikes, playing on the sidewalks and shooting baskets through hoops. I come home to people visiting and sharing and laughing and smiling on their porches or walking their babies or puppy dogs. I come home to a sanctuary. A place filled with so much love. Hudson Hills Soulshine.”
~ Rhonda, Habitat homeowner

Successful affordable housing initiatives require the partnership of many constituent groups – public, private and municipalities. Last week, we celebrated the completion of our most recent neighborhood, Hudson Hills. It was made possible with the support of the City of Asheville, Buncombe County, North Carolina Housing Finance Agency, the W&S Foundation (through Warren Haynes Presents: The Christmas Jam), and many local businesses, individuals, faith partners, and foundations. Funding was also provided by Habitat homeowner mortgage payments and ReStore proceeds. And in addition to funding, thousands of community volunteers – alongside future homeowners – built these homes.

House sponsor representatives presented ceremonial keys to the last six homes in the neighborhood, among a sea of children and large group of well-wishers. Executive Director Andy Barnett pointed out that three of the program participants have dedicated their careers to affordable housing: Bill Dowse from NCHFA (North Carolina Housing Finance Agency); Lew Kraus and Joan Cooper who recently retired from Asheville Area Habitat; and Jeff Staudinger, the City of Asheville’s Assistant Director of Community and Economic Development. Leadership from affordable housing advocates like these three, coupled with diverse funding partnerships, dedicated volunteers,  and future homeowner participation has proven time and again to be a recipe for a successful Habitat community.

With the strong foundation provided by decent and affordable homes, 24 more local families now have the strength, stability and self-reliance they need to build a better future for themselves. With a decent place to live and an affordable mortgage, these homeowners can save more, invest in the future, pursue opportunities, and have more stability. THANK YOU to everyone who helped us build Hudson Hills, a beautiful community of decent, affordable, energy-efficient houses, that are being turned into homes.

To see photos from the October 14th dedication event, please click here.

To see a short video produced by Buncombe County TV, click here.

A Delightful Duo: Lifelong Friends Provide Service to the ReStore

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By Kristen Keefer

Carolyn McDonald and Jo Harvey, friends since childhood, meet every Tuesday to volunteer at the ReStore. The duo spends their time alongside core volunteer Susan Diehn at the checkout-counter. “Susan is great; she really helped me learn the ropes,” remarked Carolyn who has been volunteering for over a year and recruited Jo to begin volunteering this past June. In regards to bringing Jo on-board Carolyn said, “Jo knew I wouldn’t lead her astray, we’ve been friends forever.” Jo agreed: “I jumped right in at the ReStore and really enjoyed it!”

Carolyn initially became acquainted with Habitat through the Home Repair program. Our repair team completed much-needed repairs on her home’s roof, and electrical and plumbing systems. As part of her home repair client agreement, she needed to complete sweat equity hours, and she chose to complete them at the ReStore.

After completing the required volunteer hours, Carolyn decided she wanted to continue her service. She explained, “I love it here. Everyone is just awesome and I look forward to coming in!” She expressed her appreciation for the ReStore’s Volunteer Coordinator Carrie Burgin, saying “Carrie is amazing; she works with my schedule and is a very caring person.”

Both Carolyn and Jo enjoy working alongside other Habitat volunteers and staff, and they appreciate what Habitat does for the community. “It is just amazing, all the people Habitat helps, all the good that they do,” remarked Jo. A longtime fan of Habitat’s work, she first became acquainted with Habitat’s mission through her grandchildren who have spent time volunteering on Habitat construction sites.

The women dedicate their time outside of Habitat to helping others as well. On the weekends, Carolyn is a Medical Technician at North Ridge Assisted Living. And, throughout the week Jo helps care for a member of her community by transporting him to and from adult day care, as well as getting him breakfast in the mornings and making him home cooked meals in the evening.

Lifelong friends Jo and Carolyn are dedicated to service at the ReStore and in the community. Their story exhibits the value of a strong friendship, and demonstrates how sharing a new opportunity with a friend can be very special. We’re grateful that Carolyn chose to continue her service at the ReStore, and that she brought Jo on-board, too!

Photo (from L to R): Susan, Carrie, Carolyn and Jo

Safe home in a tight-knit community is a dream come-true for the Trantham-Roper family

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By Kristen Keefer

This past June, Vicki Trantham and her two sons Geoffrey (Roper), 25, and Rowan, 10, moved into their Hudson Hills home, made possible by proceeds from Warren Haynes Presents: The Christmas Jam. The family harnesses a special dynamic, with oldest son Geoffrey (who is also on the deed) helping his mom Vicki raise her youngest son Rowan. The path that led this family to their forever home was filled with hard work and dedication. And today, the family is deeply rooted in the Habitat community.

Though their plates were already full when they began the journey to become homeowners, Vicki and Geoffrey enthusiastically embraced putting in sweat equity. Geoffrey shared, “It never felt like extra work. Volunteering on the weekends never felt overwhelming after the full 40 hour work week.” For him, being on the construction site was a valuable time to work with his neighbors, develop carpentry skills, and share the company of great people.

Geoffrey viewed sweat equity as an opportunity not an obligation. Geoffrey recalled, “The overall experience has been full of hope and very eye-opening.” He shared memories from his first meeting with Habitat homeowner selection committee members. Saying, “We felt so welcomed into the Habitat family. The committee members genuinely wanted to work with us.”

Currently Geoffrey is quite busy, working as a full-time pastry chef at Filo and actively playing guitar in local band The Spiral. And, though he has already completed his sweat equity, in the future he plans to return to the construction site to continue to volunteer his time to Habitat.

Geoffrey also lends his time to his younger brother Rowan. Vicki, who is a breast cancer survivor, expressed how helpful this has been to her, allowing her the opportunity to engage in activities away from home, including continuing her service with Habitat. Vicki is now a “core volunteer”, volunteering her time weekly in the administrative office, as well as at the ReStore. Being able to continue her service has filled her with happiness. She shared, “It’s wonderful to be able to give back and help other families. It’s what we wanted to do!”

The family is incredibly grateful for the opportunities they’ve been able to pursue since joining the Habitat community. Vicki shared that prior to purchasing a Habitat home they had been staying in a rural setting, in dangerous and nearly unlivable conditions. Relocating to Hudson Hills has not only given them a safe place to call home, but integrated them into a tight-knit community. Geoffrey explained, “We’ve never lived in a neighborhood before. It’s cool to see Rowan have so many friends in the neighborhood. I’m secondhand-excited for him!”

Vicki, Geoffrey, and Rowan are an inspirational family. When you meet them, you instantly feel at ease. Together they embrace a unique dynamic, sticking together through thick and thin. Their commitment to each other and the hard work they’ve put in to reach their dream of homeownership represents everything Habitat strives to support in building homes and building communities.

Tithing Update: August 2016

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From the beginning, Habitat for Humanity’s work has been global in scope, and the tithing of funds by U.S. affiliates has and continues to play a significant role in Habitat’s global impact. Tithing through Habitat for Humanity International ensures that funding reaches the countries that have both a Habitat presence and some of the greatest need.

Over the past thirty years, Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity has tithed nearly $650,000 to Habitat affiliates around the world, serving 182 international families. Each time we close a house in Buncombe County, we tithe. In 2016 alone, $45,000 was tithed to five partner countries, as well as to a new Orphans and Vulnerable Groups (OVG) Fund.

Susan Weltner Yow, Habitat for Humanity International’s Director of Affiliate Tithe and Global Engagement, recently visited our affiliate and shared updates from the countries we support through our tithe. And we are happy to be able to share those updates with you here.

Each country’s focus is different as urgent needs vary by region. In Guatemala, the focus continues to be building new homes, though they are steadily increasing the number of smokeless stove and water filtration projects that they complete as well. By 2017, HFH Guatemala will be building its 75,000 house! Asheville Area Habitat volunteers have participated in seven service trips to Guatemala in the past eight years.

In a nation populated heavily by orphans (from AIDS) and where children-headed households are common, Malawi needs clean water, as well as sanitation and hygiene systems. A healthy environment refers to more than just a healthy home, so Habitat Malawi is boring holes for community water taps and engaging the community in sanitation and hygiene education.

The largest tithe recipient of all Habitat affiliates, Haiti remains focused on rebuilding communities since the devastating earthquake of 2010. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, and land tenure remains the biggest roadblock to rebuilding there. Habitat Haiti is committed to working with the community to do repairs, retrofits and reconstruction of damaged or unsafe homes, as well as community development work and advocacy. With a newly formed Habitat Resource Center, they are also trying to lend technical assistance, create capital markets, and support incremental building processes.

The poorest non-African country in the world, and one of the most populated, Bangladesh is focused on implementing housing, water, sanitation and hygiene projects. John A. Armstrong, National Director of Habitat Bangladesh, is quick to note, “We could not operate without the support of U.S. affiliates and their tithes.”

Egypt was one of the first countries to start serving the poorest of the poor. They are focused on rehabbing existing home and providing hygiene education. An interesting phenomenon that was noted, and has since been addressed, is that because livestock is the valuable asset a person has, Egyptians were putting their livestock in their new or newly rehabbed homes, and the humans were sleeping in dilapidated and unsanitary sheds and barns. Habitat now builds sheds for the animals, in addition to building homes for the families.

Habitat for Humanity’s newer Orphans and Vulnerable Groups Fund does exactly what the name suggests; it supports the world’s most vulnerable people. In Fiscal Year 2015, the OVG funds were distributed to HFH Malawi. Funds tithed in FY16 will be used in Ivory Coast, Bangladesh, and Zambia.

As you can see, the impact of Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity extends far beyond the borders of Buncombe County. In our community and around the world, we are building and improving places to call home.

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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Volunteers From all Over the Country Unite in Asheville

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During the week of April 11-15, 14 individuals packed their bags with work clothes and boots and traveled to Asheville to build houses for families whom they had never met. While tourism in Asheville is growing, the city is also quickly becoming a hot volunteer destination. After four weeks of hosting Collegiate Challenge trips (think alternative spring break for students), Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity hosted an impressive Habitat for Humanity Global Village Team. Get ready to be inspired; this volunteer team was stacked! Some participants built in memory of a loved one, others came to bond with family members, and all of them are were here to do good. While they hailed from Florida, Wisconsin, New York, and other states, many of them have spent much of their lives living abroad.

Global Village is a program through Habitat for Humanity International that provides volunteers from all over the country and the world the opportunity to make a difference in another community. As timing is everything, this team couldn’t have planned it any better. Not only did they experience the “usual” agenda items of working on the construction site, having dinner with a Habitat partner family, and getting to do some sightseeing, but they were also able to attend a Habitat house “kickoff” event and we held a Habitat home dedication two days later. Did we mention that they were also here during National Volunteer Appreciation Week?

This Global Village trip was organized and led by local Habitat core volunteer, Charlie Franck. He and his wife Tricia spent their careers in education working in Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Kenya and Egypt. They have participated in and led many Global Village Trips over the years, where they met many of the people who were on this team. One friend and participant, who had heard stories about the Franck’s Global Village Trips for years wrote, “This is my opportunity to experience the thrill and challenge of giving back.” He had waited 30 years to participate in a Global Village Trip, and finally had a chance to do so.

A few more interesting facts about the team members:

  • They have participated in a combined 55 Global Village trips and six Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Projects!
  • There were four families participating together on this trip.
  • One participant has run in seven marathons, including three NYC Marathons.
  • One participant serves on the Board of Directors for Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery County, PA and another serves on a Board committee for HFH of Philadelphia’s ReStore.
  • One participant is on staff at Habitat for Humanity Twin Cities.
  • One woman is an Oncologist at the University of Wisconsin, and one man is a student at the New School in New York studying Culture and Media.

We are so grateful for Charlie for bringing this great team to Asheville! Click here to view pictures of the team on our Hudson Hills jobsite.

 

Help us welcome two more families HOME on April 15th

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Thanks to an anonymous donation through the Community Foundation of WNC, Asheville Area Habitat launched it first-ever Business Bungalow House last summer. All donations to the house by local businesses, were matched (up to $25,000) by that caring donor. The response from the local business community was so strong that we were able to build not 1, but 2 Business Bungalow houses!

Booth family in front of house (10) Armstrong familyWe are grateful for all the donors who stepped up to help address the affordable housing crisis in our region by helping us build two more affordable, energy-efficient houses for two local families in need of safe, decent and affordable housing. Please join us for the dedication of these homes on Friday, April 15th at 3:30pm in our Hudson Hills neighborhood to welcome the Booth and Armstrong families HOME. Call Betsy at 828.210.9363 to RSVP. Space is limited!