By Maddy Alewine, Communications Specialist
As the pandemic further economically strains 18 million American who were already spending more than half their paycheck on housing, equitable access to affordable housing is beyond crisis level; it’s a plea for life. Asheville Habitat’s mission and work is more important than ever. But how do we raise money for this mission when Covid-19 has put stress on so many?
“I kept thinking – what would I like in a fundraiser?” Development Officer Beth Russo wondered. “We are all getting bombarded all day long with requests to donate – to political candidates, to nonprofits and to people’s personal fundraisers – and they are all about giving in one direction. There is of course nothing wrong with that! But – I wanted to see something that would work both ways. And the prizes, to me, were a no-brainer because I am so sick of my own cooking.”
Along with coworker Sydney Monshaw, Stay Home with Habitat was born. The fundraiser for AAHH’s Women Build House and giveaway brought together women–owned businesses and chefs who donated meals and goodies to create nightly packages that make staying home feel like a night out on the town. Donors old and new far surpassed our expectations and gave almost $13,000!
“People are devoted to Asheville and to Habitat in a way that is more than just hammers, dollars, and mountains – people here care about their neighbor in an authentic and generous way,” Sydney said. “This was an opportunity to highlight relationships big and small and remind ourselves and our community that we can still love each other, even while being physically distant.”
Women-owned, local favorites Everyday Gourmet, Baba Nahm, Celine and Company, New Stock, and Sandhill Kitchen all contributed meals accompanied by dessert from Suladan Bakeshop and goods from several local businesses.
“Part of being a chef and cooking for people is the act of giving,” Ashley Capps, co-owner of New Stock said. “The idea we get to make a meal and someone gets to support this amazing cause, and they get to enjoy that meals at home- we get to be a tiny, tiny part of it.”
The importance of home and the family table resonated deeply with the five women chefs participating. For Alisia Parrott of Everyday Gourmet Catering, she knows she is one of the lucky ones to be able to afford a home and have a safe haven to shelter in during this pandemic. A home is beyond the hierarchy of needs- it’s critical, Alisia said, and everyone deserves the opportunity to have that.
Five winners were randomly selected and Sydney and Beth delivered the meals and goodies to their homes.
“Everyone was joyous – the donors AND the givers. And the fact that we got to bring food to someone who had literally moved this week, another who was grieving her grandmother’s death, and to folks who are financially tight but donated to us anyway was just lovely,” Beth said. “It just felt very win-win, which is my favorite kind of fundraising – where relationships and mutual benefits are honored and part of the exchange.”
The generosity of the sponsors and donors is truly what made Stay Home with Habitat a success. Every dollar raised went to the construction of Ikia’s future home at AAHH’s neighborhood called New Heights in West Asheville. When Ikia buys her energy-efficent affordable home in March 2021, she can sit down at her kitchen table with her family and know that love helped build her home. It’s that kind of connection- where neighbors bind their fates to each other- that we can begin to not only reimagine, but rebuild a community where everyone has a decent place to live.