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!

This holiday season, help change the future.

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Thanks to an affordable Habitat mortgage, Maria Lomeli, a warehouse forklift operator, is now able to provide her children with an opportunity that she didn’t have at their age – higher education.

Her children took her advice and studied hard in their new, quiet and safe home. Now, her daughter, Maria, is at UNC-Asheville, Abel attends UNC-Chapel Hill, and Emmanuel studies at Berea College in Kentucky. Josue, a junior at Asheville High School, has his sights set on attending UNC-Chapel Hill, too. In the face of Asheville’s housing crisis, Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity is committed to providing more hardworking families, like the Lomelis, an opportunity to own a home – a home that can be the foundation for growth and success.

Donate ButtonYou can change the future for families in our community.
Please donate today.

P.S. – Every dollar matters! $10 can buy a
porch light, $50 a kitchen sink, $150 a front door…

Thank You Thrivent!

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by Jonathan Dermid

Thrivent Builds with Habitat for Humanity is a multi-year, multi-million dollar mission partnership between Thrivent Financial and Habitat for Humanity International. Thrivent is the largest non-government partner and sponsor of Habitat for Humanity, and this is the eighth year that Thrivent Financial has sponsored a Habitat house here in Buncombe County. Each time, they have donated 50% of the affiliate’s construction costs ($75,693), which is nearly 1½ times the designated full-house sponsorship level.

This year’s Thrivent Builds House partner family is the Hodoroba family. Originally from Moldova, Ion and Natalya have lived in the Asheville area since 2010. For more than five years, Ion has worked as a forklift driver for Carolina Transportation. Natalya stays at home to raise the children. They have a 3 year old, 2 year old daughter and a newborn baby girl.

With unseasonably warm temperatures and under sunny skies, today was a beautiful day for the dedication of their new home. (Photos coming soon!) The family is thrilled to be moving from an old, moldy apartment to their new GreenBuilt NC home complete with a yard, in a neighborhood full of children. And they are grateful for their house sponsor, Thrivent Builds and the partnering churches, that helped make their dream of home ownership a reality.

Today’s dedication event was made even more special by our special guests. We are pleased to be hosting Thrivent volunteers from Ohio, Wisconsin, and elsewhere around the country. They are spending the week working on our jobsite as part of Thrivent Builds Worldwide, showing a solidarity that goes beyond Asheville. These Thrivent members, through their loyalty to and trust in Thrivent, are providing both funding to build Habitat houses and making a hands-on contribution by volunteering.

In addition to this visiting team, we have our local Thrivent partners to thank. “We’re fortunate to be partnered again with Abiding Savior, Emmanuel, Nativity, and St. Mark’s in our Thrivent Build, as these folks volunteered on the house and have really been the backbone of the construction,” Betsy Warren said. “If we didn’t have the full support of our Thrivent Financial representatives, this would not be possible, so we thank them for that.”

Ed Hauser is one of the Thrivent representatives that makes the Thrivent homes come together, acting as the Chapter Build Specialist and doing background work that involves things like writing grants and planning events for the local Thrivent chapter. “I’ve been involved on the college level with grant writing and applications,” Ed said, “so it was a natural fit to be able to work with the local Habitat affiliate, particularly an outstanding one like Asheville Area Habitat, to bring something like this to fruition.”

Ed’s drive to give back comes from his own childhood experience. “I grew up the oldest of 14 children, and we lived in a 1,200 square foot farmhouse with no running water and a wood-burning stove,” he said. “So I know what it’s like to live in poverty.”

This experience allowed him to gain an appreciation for helping others as he was helped, and sees his work with Thrivent Builds as an extension of that.

“I’m thankful for so many people who helped me along the way, particularly when it came to college, because I was the first one of my family to go to college,” he said. “So, the gratification for me comes from helping others in a similar way, and in terms of Christian love and sharing, Thrivent Builds with Habitat is just such a great opportunity to give back.”

We at Asheville Area Habitat appreciate this love and sharing, and thank all of our Thrivent partners for everything that they have done, and continue to do, in the name of service.

Celebrating Our ReStore Volunteers

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by Jonathan Dermid

The bonding and teamwork among our volunteers is a common thread that links these blog profiles. Every week it seems, our volunteers share a similar sentiment – they love to volunteer because not only do they support the Habitat cause, but they also genuinely enjoy the bond they have with fellow volunteers.

So, it was very fulfilling to have so many of our volunteers under one roof as they ate, drank, and shared each others’ company at our annual Volunteer Appreciation Party at Highland Brewing Company. The event was graciously catered with homemade food from Alice Donnelly, chair of the Events Committee (and retired Asheville Area Habitat Accountant). The party also served as a way for us to celebrate the milestones of certain volunteers who have been with our affiliate for 5, 10, and 15 years.

The Enders, a partner family we highlighted in a previous blog post, offered remarks of gratitude before the awards ceremony. “We desired a home for a long time,” Michelle Ender said. “It’s a real blessing, and it changes our future completely. I’m very thankful that my children will have a place to call home.”

Michelle also shared her own experience in volunteering at the ReStore, saying “it really feels like a big family when I’m there.”

Lew Kraus, executive director of Asheville Area Habitat, shared a few words about how volunteering contributes to and ultimately shapes the work of Habitat. “I’m here to salute you for the wonderful things you have done and continue to do,” he said. “I reflect back on the many years I’ve spent here, and the true metrics of success are measured in the words of the Enders family. I don’t know how to measure the metrics when a family can come home at night, put their feet up, and say this is my home.”

While the event celebrated all ReStore volunteers, a handful were called out an recognized for longevity in service. Receiving the 5 year milestone award were Marge Marsh, Sheila Ray, Wally Lee, Norm Madden, Anne Tansey, Dick Hipp, Bill Kalavorich, and Tom Thompson. Denise Goodman and Sheri Waters received the 10 year award, getting their names on a plaque in addition to receiving a congratulatory pin. And Joe Kane, a volunteer of 15 years, received a hand-made copper tile (with a house design) to commemorate his many years of volunteer service.

Finally a very special award, the “Iron Man” award, was presented to our volunteer of 25 years, Allen Laws. ReStore General Manager Scott Stetson described him as being “just like family to us at the ReStore, and I think he gets as much out of helping us, as we do out of helping him.”

And so the night wound down, with the volunteers and staff gradually going their separate ways, the spirit of giving and selflessness filling the room. In only a couple hours’ time, the entire mission of Habitat for Humanity was conveyed by a simple dinner party, because without the efforts of the volunteers, there would be no party; there would be no Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity; there would be no homeowners receiving an opportunity to change their futures.

If you would like to be part of our life-changing work, click here to learn about volunteering.

 

Helping People Live Better in the Home They Already Own

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Not everyone needs a new home; some just need help repairing the home they already own.
Meet Abdul Ahmad, one of our Home Repair Clients

Written by Pat Bacon

Abdul Ahmad’s gently creviced face, framed in cropped shiny white hair, is equally as inviting as his bright yellow house where he has resided for the past twenty-two years. “Many people from the Caribbean like bright colors and now I see four other houses in the Shiloh community that people have painted yellow!” Originally from Barbados where life is sophisticated yet casual, warm and friendly, he and his wife, the late Betty Ahmad, were married in New York. When she wanted to move back home to Asheville to help care for her ailing mother, they rented this (now yellow) house and soon thereafter purchased it and made it their permanent home.

Abdul resoundingly endorses life in the Shiloh community and he quickly volunteers that he knows and likes all of his neighbors, and his neighbors know and like him. As he and I greeted each other on his front lawn, neighbors passed by waving their hands and tooting their horns, acknowledging Abdul. He waved and smiled back, the feelings mutual. “Shiloh reminds me of Barbados where days are sun-filled and the nights are balmy. There is nothing like being around friendly, caring folks who greet you and shake your hand and help each other. Shiloh is near almost everything – shops, stores, cleaners, restaurants, everything. There is no better place to live.”

Like the outside, the inside of his house is bright, but it is a subtle brightness. It is also open – open because the living room, dining room and kitchen all easily flow together, reminiscent of gentle island life. It’s obvious that the dining room is the focal point of the house. A round table and comfortable chairs in the middle of the house make it ideal for all kinds of gatherings and the television has been placed high enough on the wall so that all can see the important sporting events. The cream-colored walls and flowing cream-colored curtains encourage the sunlight to stream in and fill the space. There are remnants of Betty’s plants in front of the windows; Abdul readily admits that caring for plants is not his strong suite. A bathroom and two bedrooms complete this cozy, compact home.

Upon arriving in Asheville many years ago and before getting a full-time job, Abdul fondly remembers volunteering on two Habitat houses. Thus it was natural for him to turn to Habitat for help when he learned about the repair program. With his modest retirement income derived from working with the City of Asheville and other private companies along the way, there was no budget for repair work.

Because of Habitat’s affordable home repair program, Abdul now enjoys a much-needed new roof, a walk-in shower, railing for his steps and the fresh bright yellow paint job. Abdul feels safer and he is renewed by the new look of his home. “It feels good to have these things finally done and at such a good price. I tell people about Habitat all the time. I even brought someone to the Habitat Office to pick up an application.”

Abdul has three adult children and two grandchildren who visit him, and he in turn visits them. He celebrates that his house is more inviting now. Thoughts of past gatherings, particularly around Christmas and Thanksgiving, bring a big ready smile to his face. These days it gives Abdul pleasure to help others; he often drives neighbors and friends to assorted destinations. Abdul, an avid reader, enjoys reading about current world events and he admits that he’d really like to write short stories. He’s promised to share them when he does.

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

 

Working on a Dream

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by Jonathan Dermid

Some might consider “The American Dream” a bygone ambition, the idea of owning one’s own home a pipe dream. Thanks to perseverance, hard work, and a caring community, the Ender family will soon realize their dream and purchase a home of their own.

“The American dream is to have a house of your own. Over the years, and coming out of a place of poverty, to try to get to that has been a struggle,” Michelle Ender said. “We’ve moved from New Jersey to Leicester to Weaverville to West Asheville. Not because we couldn’t pay rent, but something would happen where the landlord would be selling the home or something like that.”

After hearing about Habitat’s homeownership program through their church, the Ender family began the application process and was absolutely thrilled to be approved. “We know it’s not a giveaway; we have to pay a mortgage and work (do sweat equity). But thank God the house will be in our name and Habitat makes it possible to have affordable housing,” noted Michelle.

More than anything, Michelle looks forward to the sense of permanence that her own home will provide.

“With the kids now, we’ve moved 6 times, so just having a place to call our own, to decorate on our own, is wonderful,” she said. “It’s a place to call home, a place the kids can come back to when they’re older.” Adequate space is also desired, as they currently live in an overcrowded situation. Their youngest child sleeps on the couch.

On their journey towards homeownership, they are spending a good bit of time at the ReStore earning sweat equity hours and getting to know volunteers. “Becoming a homeowner through Habitat also shows you what it’s like to volunteer here…everyone is so positive and nice and welcoming and they obviously care.”

Eric Ender, Michelle’s husband, a handyman by nature, has found a niche in the appliance and electronics repair area. One of their (3) children, Eric Jr, is also volunteering in the ReStore alongside his dad. Sharing a passion for music and the technology involved, the father-son duo was very excited to learn of a sweat equity opportunity in the repair area. Brian Haynes, a ReStore Assistant Manager, is equally excited. “This is a big help to the ReStore as electronics had been piling up because we did not have anyone to test them.”

In addition to volunteering at the ReStore, the Enders have spent many hours helping to build their home and the homes of their neighbors. Echoing his wife’s sentiments about the hard work that goes into Habitat homeownership, Eric Sr. adds “Habitat houses are built with love, and you can feel that.”

The Enders 4-bedroom/2-bath home in West Asheville is the 17th Interfaith House, sponsored by a diverse coalition of local faith congregations.

A reason to celebrate

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On Saturday, May 31st Habitat homeowner-to-be Rhonda Kensinger (right) worked her final 7 hours towards her 200 hours of required Sweat Equity. But for Rhonda, it’s not over. She remarked, “We still have a whole neighborhood to finish!” and then signed on as a Friday core construction volunteer going forward.

If you missed the initial article that Rhonda wrote about the paper chain, I encourage you to read it now.

200 hour chain_Rhonda K

200 hours chain, the start of the build

Rhonda celebrated the completion of her sweat equity hours with a 200 hour cake and her family, friends, fellow volunteers and construction supervisors by her side. Rhonda said, “We decided to celebrate everyone’s 200 hours from now on.” With vast personal and professional responsibilities, imagine also making time to volunteer for 200+ hours. Parents often make difficult decisions and major sacrifices while working towards Habitat homeownership. But each and every one of them say it’s worth it in the end; when they have a safe, decent and affordable HOME to come back to each and every day.

Kudos to Rhonda and all the others who have, are, or will work towards a brighter future for themselves and their families. And thank you to all the Habitat volunteers and sponsors that are helping to provide a hand up.

family helps_Rhonda M

With family, friends and fellow volunteers on her final day of sweat equity

With John M_Rhonda K

Rhonda with construction supervisor John Meadows

200 hr cake_Rhonda K

Cake to celebrate completion of 200 hours or Sweat Equity

 

 

ReStore Silent Auction Celebrates 10 Years & Another Home for a Local Family

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In May 2005, Habitat volunteer Alan Williams set up the very first ReStore Silent Auction. In the ten years since its inception, the auction has raised $670,000, grown to be an important part of the Asheville ReStore, and is now the envy of Habitat ReStores around the nation. Williams still manages the auction but today he has help from staff and other volunteers.

The auction, like the ReStore itself, provides funds for Habitat’s building programs. The ReStore Silent Auction House currently being built in West Asheville will become home to the Frisbee family this fall. At the close of the auction on May 27th, there was a small celebration with the Frisbee family. WLOS interviewed Williams and Deanna Frisbee, and ReStore customers and Habitat supporters had the opportunity to meet the Frisbee family and sign a guest book and a stud wall. The signed 2×4 studs will used in the construction of a Habitat house.

To commemorate the 10th Anniversary of the Silent Auction, Williams and a small team of staff and volunteers curated a collection of mid-century furniture including Norman Cherner molded plywood chairs, a set of six J.L. Moller Model chairs, a L. Jacobson Model table with 2 extending leaves, and other collectible items. The set of six J.L. Moller Model chairs went for more than $1,100 – still a bargain since they’ve sold recently on eBay for twice that amount. Plus, ReStore purchases help build Habitat homes, so it was a win-win.

“We thought a mid-century furniture focus would be fun for the 10th Anniversary auction because this design style is so hot right now,” said Susan Haynes, ReStore Sales Manager. “We feel extremely fortunate to have received these incredible donations and by including them in the special 10th Anniversary auction, we hope to generate some buzz in the ReStore, expand the community’s awareness of our Silent Auction, and help ensure that these special pieces end up in a home where they will be appreciated and loved for many years to come.”

The auction included many other non mid-century items too.

To see photos from the event, please click here.

Habitat Announces First “Business Bungalow” House

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Affordable housing is one of the most pressing unmet needs in our region. A recently released report* indicated that the combination of a lack of affordable units, a critically low vacancy rate and a significant projected population growth will make housing availability in our area, especially affordable housing, a rare commodity.

Thanks to an anonymous donation through the Community Foundation of WNC, Asheville Area Habitat is pleased to announce that its first-ever “Business Bungalow” House will soon begin in West Asheville. All donations to this house by local businesses, will be matched (up to $25,000) by this caring donor.

The donor, who wants to address the affordable housing shortage head-on, is offering this match to encourage the business community to get involved and be part of the solution. “This is an opportunity to work together to build a Habitat house, address a pressing community need, and most importantly, transform the life of another local family,” said Betsy Warren, Sponsor Coordinator for Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity. “We are enormously grateful to this donor and we’re excited to partner with the local business community to collectively address the lack of affordable housing in the area.”

How to get involved:
Donations of all sizes are welcome and appreciated. All donors will receive a special window cling (decal), be recognized in AAHH’s annual report (printed and online) and be included in a printed program at the dedication of the house. Click here to Donate and select Business Bungalow under Area of Support.

Businesses that give $250 will be recognized as Housing Champions and will also receive the following benefits: the option to schedule one on-site volunteer workday, and a listing on AAHH’s website for the duration of the build (approximately six months).

Sponsorship opportunities ($1,000 and up) are also available. To learn more, visit http://bit.ly/AAHHsponsorships or contact Betsy Warren, Sponsorship Coordinator, at bwarren@ashevillehabitat.org  or 828.210.9363.

 

*The January 2015 Regional Housing Analysis by Bowen Research Group, commissioned by the City of Asheville.

 

Update on the Student Build House

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Our Sponsorship Coordinator, Betsy Warren, writes wonderful updates for our house sponsors. We just had to share her latest one to the sponsors for the Student Build House (students and faculty at Asheville Christian Academy, Carolina Day School and Christ School). It’s a great peek into the goings-on here at Habitat. Take a look!

Student Build Construction Update

Wicked Weed_4.29.15 (4)Have you been out to the Hudson Hills jobsite lately to check on the progress of the 2015 Student Build House? It’s looking great! The photograph to the right was taken last Wednesday, April 29. The group on the porch is from Wicked Weed, who made a Blueprint Sponsorship  donation towards the Student Build House, solicited by Carolina Day School.
Notice the railing lining the roof of the house in the picture. That’s a safety system called the “Hugs.” The orange pins are clamped to the entire perimeter of the roof; once those are in place, boards are threaded through to create a fence. The Hugs system prevents volunteers or construction staff from tumbling to the ground.
Construction sites can be dangerous — we’re proud that our jobsite crew does everything possible to make safety the top priority.

Trish Wolfe enrolled in Homebuyer Class

PF classTrish Wolfe, the Partner Family for the Student Build House, is hard at work on her 250 required hours of Sweat Equity. Besides visiting both Asheville Christian Academy and Carolina Day School to meet and speak to students, she is currently enrolled in Habitat’s 50-hour Homebuyer Class. In those classes, Trish and other future Habitat homeowners will dissect and analyze the closing process and mortgage documents, as well as study such things as budgeting and basic home maintenance.
Last month, the Homebuyer class welcomed guest presenters from the Fire Department, where the topic was fire prevention and safety. That’s Trish on the far right, concentrating hard on the presentation.
In future classes, Habitat board member Skip Helms and volunteer attorney Brattan Gelder will teach Trish and the other Partner Families about asset protection, retirement planning, saving for education, health care directives, and simple wills. It’s no wonder our Partner Families are so well-prepared for homeownership and for the future by closing time!

Aerial View of Hudson Hills

HH-aerial_4.28.15 (3)Check out this aerial view of Hudson Hills, taken by a high-flying volunteer just this past week. That’s the Student Build House second from the left — look closely and you can tell the roof was in progress when the picture was taken. If you zoom in, you might see the faint outlines of the Hugs system lining the Student Build roof.
New homes are just beginning on both sides of the Student Build House — the house on the left has its first wall in place; the one on the right is just a foundation. Hudson Hills is a busy place! Come out when you can — you’ll be amazed at how the neighborhood has changed and grown since our kick-off celebration at the end of March.

See you on the jobsite!

Betsy