A Million Dollar Idea

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By Ariane Kjellquist

The upper level of Asheville Habitat’s ReStore is regularly abuzz every other Wednesday around 2pm when the bi-monthly Silent Auction closes. But the level of excitement will be anything but typical on March 20th, when auction proceeds reach the $1M mark!

Call it “a million dollar idea” by retired teacher, self-proclaimed antiques freak, and ReStore volunteer Alan Williams (pictured above with Ann Justice) who was inspired by the TV program Antiques Roadshow. He recognized that some of the items donated to the ReStore held significant value to the right buyer. A Silent Auction, he believed, could help the ReStore raise more money for Asheville Habitat’s programs.

Williams has been spearheading the curation of each auction (there have been 278) since its May 18, 2005 inception. From rare items and collectible memorabilia to local art and handmade crafts, the auction has featured a cross-section of American history and pop culture. Each auction contains, on average, 65-70 items. Some, no one can even identify!

The most unique auction by most accounts was the Grove Park Inn auction, held in celebration of Asheville Habitat’s 30th Anniversary in 2013. All of the items were donated by the Grove Park Inn and included: purple velvet loungers, “car” couches, copper wall lights, a player piano, mannequins and dress forms, many whimsical floor and table lamps, leather club chairs, arts & craft-style furniture and more. It raised more than $13,000!

While staff readily embraced the Silent Auction concept from the start, they never anticipated its impact. “We never could have foreseen what Alan would build these past 13 years, or that it would gain such a loyal following from community members,” remarked ReStore Assistant Manager Susan Haynes who supports Alan and the auction volunteer crew, which includes Anne Justice and Rob Carroll. Donation processing staff and volunteers also help by keeping an eye out for items they think Alan may want to consider for the auction.

On Wednesday, March 20th at 1pm, guests will gather in the upper showroom of the ReStore to celebrate the auction’s $1 million milestone, recognize Alan Williams, and present ceremonial keys to Habitat’s newest homeowner, Courtney Hoglen. 

Silent Auction proceeds, like all ReStore proceeds, help fund Asheville Habitat’s affordable home building and home repair programs.

Volunteer Spotlight: Tom Weaver

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By Marty Steinberg
It’s deconstruction day. Habitat for Humanity volunteer Tom Weaver arrives early, as he always does. He meets the homeowners, John and Irene, who have decided to donate their kitchen cabinets and appliances to the ReStore rather than see them go into the dumpster or to the scrapyard.

ReStore: A Picker’s Heaven

By Marty Steinberg
Nestled in the mountains above Hot Springs, Tom Hare’s 1903 chestnut cabin is a retreat from modern living. A pot of chili simmers on a wood-fired cook stove. A table, made by Hare from the original wormy chestnut ceiling joists of the home, is set in the kitchen. A huge pot-bellied wood stove warms the living room.

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 Great Retirement Plan

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By Maria Angell

Volunteering with the Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity ReStore is great for retirees – like Lee Fadden and Jan Wright – who have, combined, nearly 50 years of volunteer experience with the ReStore!

Lee started volunteering with the Asheville ReStore in 1997 after she had retired from Eaton Corporation and decided to give her time to a worthy cause. She currently works in the ReStore’s housewares department where she cleans and prices items. Lee enjoys her volunteer position because of the people she works with and knowing that her “efforts will help to provide homes for those who would not be able to afford them without the help of Habitat.”

Jan’s volunteer work with the Asheville ReStore began nearly 28 years ago in 1990 after she retired from Mission Hospital.

“I began volunteering because I felt I needed and wanted to give back because I have been blessed in many ways. Habitat appealed to me because it was at that time a Christian organization based on biblical principles, helping to provide homes for people who, without their help, would never own their own home.”

Jan works alongside Lee in the housewares department. She enjoys getting to socialize with people who have the same goals. She too finds her volunteer work rewarding because she knows she is helping contribute to the funding Habitat needs to build homes. Volunteers help keep Habitat’s costs down, and proceeds from ReStore sales support Habitat’s home building and home repair programs.

“I would recommend volunteering at Habitat. You have great people to work with and at the same time, you provide a needed service,” Jan concluded.

Thank you Lee and Jan for the combined 50 years of service you have given to the Asheville ReStore! We appreciate both of you and all of your hard work!

Interested in joining Habitat’s volunteer team? Click here to learn about opportunities.

 

Warm Up With Some Fair Trade Coffee

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Did you know that the Asheville Habitat ReStore sells Guatemalan roast coffee from Dynamite Roasting Co.? By the bag and the cup! Find it in the bookstore area of the store, on the upper floor.

Proceeds from the sale of this coffee go to Habitat for Humanity Guatemala for the installation of Healthy Home Kits (smokeless stoves, sanitary latrines, and water filters) in the homes of Guatemalan coffee farmers. “Selling coffee that directly helps ensure Guatemalan coffee farmers have a decent and healthy home, brings our work full circle,” said Scott Stetson, ReStore General Manager.

“Our farmer friends work so hard to provide us with coffee crops of exceptional quality. When they and their families are healthy, communities grow stronger in their region- and in ours. A healthy farmer makes the world healthier in countless ways. This partnership between Dynamite Roasting Co. and Habitat for Humanity is direct action with immediate results. We are thrilled to put this positive plan into motion,” said Josh Gibbs, co-owner Dynamite Roasting Co.

Makenzie Brown, Habitat Guatemala Donor Relations Officer added, “We are grateful for our partnership with Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity. It is because of such support that we are able to work alongside Guatemalan families, and together, improve their quality of life. Today, 46% of Guatemalans use an inadequate latrine or no sanitary services at all, 95% of the water in Guatemala is contaminated, and 52% of Guatemalans suffer from respiratory disease. It is our hope that with each Healthy Home Kit, a family will make a small change that will have a big impact in their home.”

Proceeds from the ReStore have been supporting Asheville Habitat’s building programs since 1990, when the resale shop (then known as the Habitat Home Store) first opened its doors on Biltmore Avenue. Supporting a sister affiliate in Guatemala through the sale of coffee, is another way the ReStore supports Habitat’s vision of a world where everyone has a decent place to live.

Learn more about Habitat Guatemala’s Healthy Home Kits.

Learn more about Dynamite Roasting Co.

 

Community Connection

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By Maria Angell

Interested in volunteering? Then maybe the Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity ReStore is the place for you; as it is for Mark Carter.

Mark just started volunteering with us in January of this year and already loves the work he has done with the Asheville ReStore.

He started volunteering with Habitat because he wanted a way to connect with people locally and help a charity that offers long-term value to our community. He has past experience volunteering with the Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministry and the Western Carolina Rescue Ministries.

Mark operates the building supplies register at the front of the ReStore where he assists customers and fellow volunteers. He says he loves his position because it’s action-packed and a lot of fun; he particularly loves meeting the customers, hearing their stories, and the overall camaraderie of the Habitat team including fellow volunteers Laurie Vint, Andrew Simons, and Rhonda McKenna (pictured above).

Seeing customers leaving with items that they would not be able to afford without the ReStore, never fails to put a smile on Mark’s face. And knowing that he’s helping so many people, in and out of the store, have a better quality of life, is what Mark finds most rewarding about his volunteer work.

Mark highly recommends that anyone looking to serve the community should consider Habitat. “The culture is very positive, and they let you know you are appreciated. There are opportunities for every personality, and they are open to utilizing your individual talents. Working with an organization that requires recipients to take an active role is very rewarding.”

Thank you Mark for sharing your time with Asheville Habitat to ensure more families have safe, stable homes!

To learn more about volunteer opportunities with Asheville Habitat, click here.

 

 

A True Passion for Habitat

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By Maria Angell

As soon as you walk into the Asheville Habitat ReStore, volunteer Rhonda McKenna’s smiling face is going to be one of the first things you see.

Rhonda has a long history of volunteering, including her volunteer work with homeless shelters, churches, and her daughter’s school back in Atlanta, Georgia. Over twelve years ago, she and her family left Georgia and moved here to Asheville, North Carolina. With her daughter in school and her husband travelling for work, Rhonda decided to go back to volunteering in order to keep herself busy. She is a firm believer in service and thought that working with a local organization would give her an opportunity to meet new people in a new town. She tried volunteering with a few organizations, but none of them seemed to be the right fit. That’s when she decided to reach out to Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity, as she had previous experience with Habitat back in Atlanta. “Habitat was organized right from the start. They immediately got back to me and had a position for me right away. I loved working with them in Atlanta. I love the cause and the whole mission.”

Rhonda now has experience in just about every volunteer position Asheville Habitat offers, from working on the construction site and in the administrative office, to serving on the Events Committee and participating in a Global Village Trip to Guatemala. These days though, she is most often found at the lower register in the ReStore. On Fridays, she runs the cash register, assists customers, puts out merchandise, and engages in her favorite aspect of her work – socializing with customers, fellow volunteers, and staff.

Anytime she has the opportunity, Rhonda recommends others volunteer with Habitat for Humanity. She states that the organization is perfect for adults of any age and any walk of life. According to Rhonda, it is an amazing place for older people to put their lifelong skills to use, especially on the jobsite, and it is a great environment to socialize and make new friends. Rhonda also encourages young people (ages 16+)  to get involved.

“I think it’s important for young people to volunteer because they learn to give back. At a young age, you’re generally very into yourself. And I think it’s a good thing for young people to look outside of themselves. When you’re at a certain age you think your life is terrible…until you get some perspective.”

Rhonda also loves how Habitat gives people the opportunity to learn new skills. In one instance, she was working at a jobsite with a group of nurses with no construction experience; some of whom had never hammered a nail. At the beginning of the day, the women were incredibly nervous about the tasks at hand. But by the end of the day, they had built an entire porch by themselves and were beaming with pride!

It is apparent that Rhonda has a true passion for volunteer work and for Habitat for Humanity. “I really love the whole mission. I love the fact that we help people help themselves. It’s so wonderful to see how we’re changing people’s lives.”

Thank you Rhonda for the twelve years of service you have given to our organization! We appreciate you!

If you would like to volunteer with Asheville Habitat, click here to see the opportunities and sign up.

Thank You Volunteers!

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With volunteers central to our business model, Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity is recognizing milestones and thanking volunteers with small gifts and treats daily during National Volunteer Appreciation Week (April 15-21).

Whether swinging a hammer at the construction site, fixing a floor on a home repair project, accepting donations at the ReStore, answering phones in the office, or serving on a committee, volunteer action directly impacts Habitat’s ability to serve more individuals and families in need of safe, stable, and affordable housing.

Last year, 2,100 volunteers contributed 67,400 hours of service – a value of more than $1.67 million!* Another way to look at it: the hours contributed by volunteers equates to having an additional 32 full-time staff members!

Thanks to the dedication of volunteers (and donors and advocates), Asheville Habitat directly served 87 families in 2017 through homeownership, home repair, and tithe programs.

HOME IS THE KEY to unlocking opportunities for educational and employment advancement, health improvements, financial stability, the ability to age in place, and so much more. “Every hand makes a difference and Habitat is grateful for the commitment of all volunteers, whether they help one time or once a week, for the first time or for many years,” said Andy Barnett, Executive Director.

Speaking of longevity, a number of core volunteers (those who make a weekly or bi-weekly commitment) reached noteworthy service milestones in 2017.  

  • Dick Allen and Tom Wolff, Construction volunteers, reached the 15 year service mark, as did ReStore volunteer Beth Robrecht.
  • Jack Witzel (Construction) and Lee Fadden (ReStore) have been volunteering for 20 years.
  • Paul Finegan (Construction) celebrated 25 years of service with Habitat! During that time, he has worked on 280 Habitat homes, personally helping 416 adults and 638 children build brighter futures on the foundation of safe, stable housing.

Paul Finegan received a framed quilt square.

Some fun facts about Asheville Habitat’s volunteer program:

  • In 2017, through programs such as Global Village, Thrivent Builds Worldwide, and Collegiate Challenge, as well as the signature “Before the Jam, Lend a Hand” volunteer event, Asheville Area Habitat hosted volunteers from 32 different U.S. states and 3 countries!
  • It takes 1,650 hours of volunteer labor to build one Habitat house.
  • Asheville Habitat utilizes about 140 volunteers in the ReStore each week.
  • A team of 12 volunteers traveled to Guatemala to work with Habitat. They installed Healthy Home Kits, a program that Asheville Habitat’s new coffee program supports.
  • Core volunteers (those who volunteer on a weekly or bi-weekly basis) contributed 50% of total volunteer hours last year!

Together – as volunteers, donors, sponsors, and ReStore supporters – Asheville Habitat helps address the region’s affordable housing crisis and providing opportunities for families to build better futures. “The magic in what we do is the active part of our mission – bringing people together,” said Barnett during a volunteer appreciation event earlier this year. “For 35 years, Asheville Habitat has united people around a common vision, a world where everyone has a decent place to live. Together, we have helped 500 local families build strength, stability and self-reliance on the foundation of a safe, decent home.”

To learn more about volunteering with us, click here.

To make a donation to our 35th Anniversary House in honor of a volunteer, please click here. All donations to this house, which celebrates 35 years and 500 families served, will be matched by Avl Technologies!