Another Successful Day of Caring

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by Jonathan Dermid

Today, September 10th, United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County celebrated their 24th annual Day of Caring through their Hands On volunteer program. The Day of Caring is a volunteer program run through United Way that connects companies, organizations and individuals with United Way partner agencies and provides them with a hands-on opportunity to make a difference in their community.

It equips and mobilizes workforce volunteers and other volunteer groups to strengthen our community by matching these groups with service projects to benefit Asheville and Buncombe County nonprofits, schools and public entities.

Today, at the Habitat Asheville ReStore, we had the privilege of hosting volunteers from Biltmore Farms Hotels who assisted with repairs, cleaning, and preparation of items to be sold in the ReStore during this Saturday’s BIG SALE. They helped out immensely and the ReStore is grateful for their service!

Two teams from Southeastern Container partnered with us too and assisted with both home repair and construction. At the Edwards’ home in West Asheville, our Habitat supervisors Lawrence Lippard and Joel Johnson led a group in building a ramp for the family. In our Hudson Hills neighborhood, another group laid six pallets of sod, and painted the porch and interior of our Business Bungalow House.

We are grateful for the participation of these volunteer teams and applaud the United Way for organizing yet another successful day-long community-wide volunteer initiative.

A big THANK YOU to Fairfield Inn & Suites South/Biltmore Square and Southeastern Container employees for all of your hard work today! We hope you had a good time while doing good work!

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.

 

Another Home Repair Success Story

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The Barnard Family – Comfortable and Happy in Their Recently Repaired Home

Written by Pat Bacon, Habitat’s Family Support Specialist

When I pulled into the snowy driveway that faces the Barnard house, I could see a curtain move from one side of the window to the other, and before I could get out of my car and walk toward the front door, Angela Barnard had opened it and was standing on the front porch. Anticipating a visitor, a much-loved cat scampered underneath the house. Angela’s smile was welcoming as she invited me to come inside. She said that she had been waiting for me and in a pleasant voice, she called out to her husband, Neal, “Ms. Bacon is here. Come into the living room; she came from Habitat to talk with us.”

The living room was toasty and full of a variety of colorful artificial flowers. Neal said, “Ann (short for Angela) prefers artificial flowers to live plants because she doesn’t have to water them and there is always something pretty to look at in the room…. Ann likes pretty things.” Three of their twelve-year-old wedding pictures are proudly and prominently displayed on one wall. The wedding was in the living room and Ann did all the preparations for the wedding. A tall brown, beautifully dressed ceramic angel surrounded by sea shells reigns over the coffee table situated in the middle of the room. The angel, given to Ann by her mother, is bordered by two smaller angels, and Ann says, “Together they represent my mother, my sister and me.” She swallows because her mother and her sister are deceased, but Angela quickly recovers and says, “Now Neal is the focus of all of my attention.” With no hesitation Neal echoes Ann’s words, “And Ann is the focus of all of my attention.” They smile at each other knowingly; their devotion to one another obvious.

NRI_Barnard before and afterNeal and Ann have each known illness and stints in the hospital. Neal has also spent time in a rehabilitation facility to re-gain his ability to walk. Both are now recovering at a steady pace, mindful of their doctors’ directions, and equally mindful of each other.

When they realized that their house was in need of some repairs they knew that their combined, modest monthly incomes would not allow them to approach conventional repair sources. It was then that Angela remembered that she had heard about Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity’s repair program. After talking about it, just as they do everything else, Neal and Angela requested an application. They are both quick to say that from the onset Habitat’s staff was responsive and pleasant. They are appreciative of the way the staff carefully explained the application process, answered their questions and assessed the work that needed to be done.

And when the work was completed, they were very satisfied that it was well done and a good price. A new front door makes them feel safe and secure, and it also makes the approach to the house more attractive. An unsightly hole in the ceiling between the living room and the hallway has been repaired, and the new kitchen sink and cabinet makes Ann beam with delight. To top it all off, the kerosene heaters that they once used to keep themselves warm are now in a corner because they have a new HVAC system complete with floor registers and ducts.

Angela and Neal said that because the cost for the repair work was so reasonable, they will be able to make the payments with no trouble. They are actively telling other homeowners about Habitat’s Home Repair program, and Ann says, “I want others, like Neal and me, to know about this wonderful opportunity that helps people who just need a chance. We want other people to enjoy their homes like we do now. Habitat is a program that cares about people.”

As I prepare to leave, Angela invites me to see the kitchen. As I stand in the doorway, she pats the new cabinet around the sink and we smile at each other. We make our way to the front door and as she opens the door, the cat scampers back inside as fast as he came out. It’s a cold day outside, but it’s warm and toasty inside the Barnard house.

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

 

Home Repair Program Makes One Shiloh Resident Dance with Joy

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Written by Pat Bacon, Habitat’s Family Support Specialist

Eugene (Gene) Rone’s mother died in 1929, just thirteen days after he became a year old. On her death bed, his mother asked his seventeen year old sister, Willie Mae, to take care of him; and she did. Willie Mae also taught him to care for himself and to seek a good life. As a teenager, he cooked, washed and ironed his own clothes, cleaned house, went to school and worked a part time job. He earned $1.00 a week and every week he gave his dad fifty cents. Later he met and became “family” with a Cuban family that owned a grocery store. He started working for the family at $3.00 a week and when his income increased, so did his dad’s – “$1.50 a week.” Gene said that along the way he grew tired of “lamp light,” especially when he was entertaining friends, so he saved his money and before long and much to his and his family’s pleasure,  he was able to have electricity and a telephone installed in the family home.

After graduating from Stephens Lee High School in 1949, Gene started doing domestic work and in 1953 he married his sweetheart, Mary, who at that time lived in the Shiloh Community. From 1954-1956 he served in the Army, barely missing a stint in Vietnam. Upon his return to Asheville, fifty-eight years ago, he and Mary purchased their home in the Shiloh Community for what was then the colossal sum of $4,500.

The Rone house is modest by conventional standards – two bedrooms, one bath. But it is rich because of a unique nuance, wonderful pictures and a cadre of mementos from many years of special occasions, family and community events which adorn all the walls, nooks and crannies – including ballroom dances with Mary who died in 1993. On a wall in the living room is a smiling picture of Mary and a framed poem dedicated to her – lit by an eternal candle flame.

Gene indicating damage near a windowGene is very proud of his community and he knows everybody on his street and everybody knows him. They all take a lot of pride in their homes and their yards. When Gene noted that his house needed painting, downspouts and gutters, he learned from a neighbor who happened to be a Habitat volunteer, about Habitat’s Home Repair program. Gene obtained and completed an application and as we say, the rest is history. Habitat’s Joel Johnson assessed the work and made the needed arrangements to get it done.

Habitat did a variety of repair work including servicing the oil furnace; scraping and painting exterior windows, doors, and trim; replacing rotten window trim and broken siding; re-routing water runoff from downspouts away from the house; replacing missing gable vent trim and installing a new gutter.

Gene is very grateful to Habitat for repairing his cherished home. He readily admits that it would have been very difficult if not impossible, to afford the work on his retirement income. He said that “these days folks charge an arm and a leg for anything that they do for you. Folks like me need organizations like Habitat.”

Gene has wonderful recall of the past and a positive outlook for the future. He remembers riding street cars at six cents a pop and cutting wood for the kitchen stove. These days he enjoys the good feeling he gets from driving his 1995 white, convertible mustang and entertaining family and friends. He speaks readily about what it means to live a full, rich life with no regrets. He smiles and says, “I’m still dancing with Mary!”

Help for the Helpers

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Marion and Thelma Scott are delightful. They’re the kind of folks who make good neighbors and enhance neighborhoods. They moved to Asheville in 1995 after having lived in Norwalk, Connecticut for thirty-six years. In Connecticut Thelma was an accountant and Marion’s last work was with a cable company (where one of their three sons now works). Born in North Carolina, it was Thelma’s hope to move back to the state to be near family, particularly her mother. Upon retirement Thelma’s hope became reality, and Thelma and Marion moved to Asheville, twelve years before her beloved mother’s death. And though her mother has passed, family remains nearby as Thelma’s sister currently lives across the street.

The Scotts live in a well-kept house on a quiet, but well-traveled street in south Asheville. They are always mindful and attentive to the maintenance and care needed for their house and their yard. To the pleasure of their neighbors, the Scotts immediately took an interest in the people who lived around them. They particularly began to give attention to their aging neighbors by driving them to appointments, helping them to maintain their yards and doing other things to make their lives easier.

At one time it got to the point where Marion did not have to announce himself when he was entering one neighbor’s yard, and then when he wanted to borrow a certain tool, the neighbor said that he no longer needed to ask even for it. The neighbor soon let it be known that the tool seemed to belong more to Marion than to him. Before long the neighbor outright gave Marion the tool. Being the upright, responsible man that he is, Marion used it for the upkeep of both yards, until the neighbor’s death.

As mentioned earlier, the Scotts are attentive to their home and its ongoing maintenance needs. After following the maintenance schedule prescribed by a heating and air company for their entire tenure in the house, the heating system was not working properly. They had called the service provider several times, and each time the company employee came out to repair the furnace. Finally, the company employee surmised that the entire system needed to be replaced because it could no longer be repaired. The Scotts proceeded to get estimates for a new heating system and the cheapest one that they could find was $7,900.  This was an impossible amount because of their fixed income. And while the furnace was the major problem, the Scotts also noticed some other needs. The insulation underneath the living room floor had fallen away. There were places in their living room that the Scotts could not reach to paint. A wall was cracked and it needed to be repaired and painted. And finally the crawl space needed to be covered to prevent dust and dirt from finding its way into the living room.

It was time for the helpers to seek help of their own. Marion and Thelma had heard about the Habitat home repair program on radio station WRES and as directed, they phoned for a home repair application. Upon completing the application, they met with Habitat’s Family Selection Coordinator and he forwarded the application to the Home Repair Supervisor (Joel Johnson) who visited the Scott home to do an assessment.

Joel determined that the requested work was doable and he proceeded to get another heating company to look at the furnace. That assessment showed that the furnace was still good and it could be repaired at a reasonable cost.

Mr. and Mrs. Scott breathed a sigh of relief after Joel’s visit. The furnace has been repaired. The other repairs have also been completed and the Scotts are look forward to having their three sons, six grandchildren and all the rest of their family in their home for Christmas. Thelma said “It just wouldn’t do for my grandbabies to be cold.”

When asked about their experience with Habitat, Thelma and Marion were very complimentary. “We are grateful for the positive interaction with Habitat staff. We appreciate the professionalism exhibited by the workers and we could not be happier about the cost and terms of repayment.”

If you’d like to learn more about our Home Repair program services and qualifications, please click here.

Written by Pat Bacon, Family Support Specialist

Enjoy a Special Evening at the Biltmore Estate to help Habitat

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Save the Date – Friday, October 10th

Asheville Area Habitat is thrilled to be the beneficiary of the 2014 Annual Biltmore Benefit, co-hosted by Colton Groome and Company. The event will take place on the evening of Friday, October 10th and funds raised will support our Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative Home Repair Program in the Shiloh Community in South Asheville.

Guests will begin the evening at the Statue of Diana at Biltmore for an outdoor reception overlooking Biltmore House and the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, an elegant four-course dinner prepared by Estate chefs, dancing… and an exciting surprise at the close of the event.

Tickets are on sale now. Purchase or pledge your Sponsorship soon before this year’s event sells out. If you would like to receive information, please call 828-225-1218 and leave your name, and mailing or email address and event information will be sent to you soon.

 

 

 

Habitat Welcomes New Home Repair Manager

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We are pleased to welcome Hugh Lipham as Home Repair Manager. In this new position, Lipham will coordinate the day-to-day Construction Services operations of the Home Repair program including: inspection, scope of work, pricing, scheduling, project planning, subcontractor coordination and acceptance.

Lipham comes to Habitat from The Housing Assistance Corporation in Hendersonville, where he worked as Director of Residential Development for more than seven years. Having managed affordable single-family and multi-family housing development activities for that agency, he brings a wealth of experience in affordable housing. Prior, Hugh served as a field coordinator of the very highly regarded emergency home repair program at The Appalachia Service Project. Hugh is also a licensed general contractor in North Carolina and has spent time in management with a family-owned business.

Asheville Area Habitat was one of the first Habitat affiliates to introduce Neighborhood Revitalization (Home Repair) as an extension of its new house construction program in 2009. This expansion of housing services was part of Asheville Habitat’s Building a Way Home campaign to triple the number of families served by 2015. Since 2010, the affiliate has completed more than 70 home repair projects in Buncombe County, ranging in scope from repairing walkways and improving accessibility, to replacing roofs and upgrading heating systems.

Bringing significant knowledge and experience, Lipham is a welcome addition to AAHH as the affiliate works to expand its home repair program in the coming years.