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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.

 

Friendship: Just One Reason to Volunteer

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By Madeline McIntyre

Betty Jo Readling started volunteering at the ReStore in the same way many others start: a friend asked. And we are fortunate enough that Betty Jo said yes. For ten years now, she has been a true leader among the volunteers, assisting in trainings and helping with anything and everything. “I love working that front desk right there, and getting to greet people, and going out on the floor, you know, just whatever anybody needs,” Betty Jo said.

Before her retirement, Betty Jo worked the front desk at Asheville Pediatrics. This experience made her well-equipped to work the ReStore register. We soon realized her talents and recruited her as the Volunteer Manager. “I’ve trained everybody who has worked with me and some others too,” Betty Jo said. Her favorite part of volunteer training is seeing the growth in others. “Just seeing how quickly some people can pick it up or how you have to maybe help some a little bit more,” she said.

And Betty Jo truly loves to help out. She spent some time during her last shift making sure an elderly couple would be able to back into the loading dock and load their purchases into their car. “That’s a big thing – just helping other people. And I get to see all of that,” Betty Jo said.

Her commitment to others makes her a favorite among the volunteers. “I adore her,” a fellow Wednesday volunteer, Debbie Rogers said. “She’s just a wonderful person.” Other volunteers feel the same way, making sure Betty Jo has a ride to Habitat events, helping her celebrate birthdays, and going out for the occasional lunch date. “There are three of us who meet every so often and go out to lunch,” Betty Jo said. “We just have a good time.”

These friendships are simply another part of the many reasons why Betty Jo has continued her service to Habitat for Humanity for so many years. “It is a nice way to make friends,” she said. “And the interaction that we have with customers, with staff, with volunteers. It’s just all good.”

Betty Jo plans on continuing to volunteer with Habitat for as long as she can, showing her dedication to our mission and values. And even though she has seen the ReStore change over the years, from system overhauls to building overhauls, she cannot imagine being anywhere else.
“It is just a great place. I love being here, and I’ll stay as long as I can,” Betty Jo said. “That pretty much sums it up.”

We are grateful to that friend who first asked her to volunteer, and so appreciate of all the volunteer service hours that Betty Jo has provided to Asheville Area Habitat over the past decade. Thank you, Betty Jo!

Photo: Betty Jo is pictured Left with fellow volunteers in 2006 (L) and 2016 (R).

AAHH Announces New Executive Director

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (February 2, 2016) — Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity today announced that Andy Barnett has been named as its new Executive Director. Barnett succeeds longtime Executive Director Lew Kraus, who has announced his retirement from the position.

Barnett comes to the affiliate from St. Paul, Minnesota, where he has been Coordinating Consultant for the Frogtown Rondo Home Fund for the last three years. Frogtown Rondo Home Fund is a unique collaboration of over 30 community, philanthropic, and local government organizations focused upon enriching the quality of life in the Frogtown and Rondo neighborhoods of St. Paul. The Frogtown Rondo Home Fund connects and enhances public and private housing resources and activities in a very diverse section of the city, seeking to bring visible stability to the area while addressing residents’ most pressing housing needs.

Prior to his three years with Frogtown Rondo Home Fund, Barnett was with Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity for nearly 14 years. During his tenure with one of the most innovative Habitat affiliates in the nation, Barnett served in a variety of roles including Site Supervisor, Director of Construction, and Director of Community Development. In 2010, as interim Director of Programs and Services, he co-chaired the affiliate’s participation in the prestigious Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project, with responsibility for neighborhood engagement, family services, volunteerism, construction, logistics, gifts-in-kind, and events.

“Andy’s track record of hands-on leadership and experience with affordable housing initiatives at Twin Cities Habitat and Frogtown Rondo Home Fund will be great assets for both Asheville and Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity,” said David Whilden, Board chairman for the organization. “He comes to Asheville having made strong contributions to the cause of improving the lives of Twin Cities residents by building homes and stronger neighborhoods. We believe Andy is an excellent fit for our organization, our community, and our values of collaboration, opportunity, dignity, and empowerment.”

Barnett is a graduate of the University of Minnesota with a degree in Housing Studies. However, he is no stranger to Asheville and western North Carolina. He began his studies at Appalachian State University and started his career in affordable housing by helping establish a Habitat affiliate in Rockingham County, NC after attending a regional Habitat affiliate conference in Asheville that was held in 1993. Additionally, Barnett and his wife were married at the Asheville Botanical Gardens.

“The Board of Directors recognizes that we have been so fortunate to have someone with Lew Kraus’ tremendous character, energy, and capabilities as our leader for 28 years,” said Whilden. “The staff, homeowners, volunteers, donors, and supporters of Asheville Habitat have achieved remarkable things during this time. We are also very enthusiastic about having a leader succeed him, who will build upon that legacy and help achieve our vision of a world where everyone has a decent place to live.”

Kraus added, “Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity is considered a model Habitat affiliate, and we are grateful to have Barnett’s experience with that organization here in Buncombe County. His involvement with so many facets of the Habitat operation will be especially valuable in his role as Executive Director. Additionally, his experience with a community-based organization like the Frogtown Rondo Home Fund will be a great asset as we address the challenges of affordable housing in our neighborhoods.”

Barnett will begin his work as Executive Director in March.

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.

Reading enthusiast finds volunteer home at Habitat

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By Jonathan Dermid

If the Asheville Habitat ReStore has a hidden gem, it would be the used bookstore. Tucked away in the back of the upper showroom, it may seem to be just another thrifty book corner. But as soon as you enter, you feel how it is different from other used bookstores.

Our bookstore is meticulously organized and operated through the care of several staff members and volunteers, who provide a warm and welcoming atmosphere which can be felt throughout the upper showroom.

One such volunteer is Katie Caron, who has been volunteering with Habitat for five years now. A former English teacher, Katie retired to Asheville and almost immediately found a place within Habitat.

“I went to an orientation at an organization called Land of Sky and they had different representatives from different organizations, and Habitat interested me,” she said. “I really believe in the purpose of the Habitat program and the way that it’s carried out.”

A self-proclaimed “book nut”, Katie gravitated towards the bookstore, where she volunteers on both Tuesdays and Thursdays. She chose to volunteer two days a week because she loves the idea of donating her time to the cause.

“It’s nice to donate your time instead of just writing a check,” she said, “and that time is equally donated by the people you’re helping.” Katie is referring to the Sweat Equity, or volunteer hours, that Habitat homeowners contribute on their path to Habitat homeownership.

She attributes her passion for volunteering to a sort of team mentality. “I like that idea of everyone working together,” she said, “it’s like a team, and that’s what this place is all about.”

As a team player, Katie will jump in when and where she is needed. Early in her tenure as a volunteer she helped our Communications department by cleaning and painting donated windows and doors which now comprise the “Habitat mission wall” in the lower showroom – a display that explains what Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity, and the Asheville Habitat ReStore, is all about.

It’s the teamwork and the end result for the partner families (homeownership) that make volunteering so satisfying for Katie.

“When I see all the people around me that work so hard for this purpose, and when I see a family that we’ve helped, it makes me think ‘wow, that’s why I go in there and do that’,” she said. “It’s very fulfilling for me.”

If you’d like to learn about becoming a Habitat volunteer (in the ReStore or another area of the organization), please click here.

 

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

 

 

Asheville Area Habitat to Benefit from Concert with Musical Patriarch Jim Avett

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NewSong is excited to announce the upcoming concert, ‘An Evening of Story & Song with Jim Avett.’ The show will begin at 7 PM on Saturday, June 6 in the beautiful and acoustically rich Sanctuary of downtown Asheville’s Central United Methodist Church (27 Church Street).

The concert is presented by Central United Methodist Church, in association with the Orange Peel, WNCW, NewSong Music and the Asheville Area Arts Council. Tickets are $17.00 in advance and $20.00 on the day of show, and are available for purchase online at theorangepeel.net. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity.

The son of a Methodist minister and a classical pianist, Jim Avett grew up in a home full of love and music, learning the importance of hard work and honest living. He and his wife instilled these same values in their children – including sons and musicians Seth and Scott of the Avett Brothers – and tempered them with a lot of fun and music. His guitar was an ever present instrument, and there was always singing.

As much as he enjoyed writing and performing his music, Avett put his family first and spent 35 years running his welding company, building bridges along much of the east coast in order to provide for them. After retiring from welding, he returned to music and recorded Jim Avett and Family in 2008, a collection of gospel music, with his children, Bonnie, Scott and Seth.

In 2010 he released Tribes, a collection of original tunes, followed by 2012’s Second Chance, which draws heavily on classic country and early rock and roll influences.

Avett now tours across the country, performing in listening rooms and festivals from the Southeast to Pacific Northwest to New England. His shows are a combination of beloved country tunes, gospel, original ballads and the stories he tells to introduce them.

www.jimavett.com
www.centralumc.org

DATE: Saturday, June 6
Doors: 6:30 PM EDT
Showtime: 7:00 PM EDT
Seated Show / All Ages

 

LOCATION:
The Sanctuary
Central United Methodist Church
27 Church Street, Asheville, North Carolina 28801
828.253.3316

TICKET PRICE:
$17.00 advance // $20.00 day of show
A portion of the proceeds to benefit Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity

PARTNERS:
Central United Methodist Church
Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity
The Orange Peel
WNCW
Asheville Area Arts Council

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

Community Spirit is Alive and Well at Carney Place

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Two recent activities at Carney Place, an Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity neighborhood that received a 2014 Housing NC Award, epitomize what we often refer to as community. Last week homeowners in this engaged and vibrant neighborhood hosted a clean-up day for a section on the cul-de-sac. The local Boy Scout troop, which includes several Carney Place kids, helped with the project. They cleaned up the sidewalk, trimmed back overgrowth, planted apple trees and then celebrated their accomplishments with popsicles. In all, eight families from the neighborhood came out and worked side by side on the project. Click here to see photos.

The same week, Anna Herbert dedicated a Little Free Library (LFL) that she built for the children of Carney Place. Click here to see photos. With construction support and know-how provided by Habitat core volunteer Charlie Franck, Anna built the LFL and earned her Girl Scout Gold Award by doing so. A Little Free Library is exactly what it sounds like: it’s a small library constructed to be accessible for residents to take, leave and share books. Imagine a bird house – but slightly bigger. Little Free Libraries can hold anywhere from five books to possibly hundreds, depending on the size. In this case, the library will hold approximately 30 books for children ages 1-18. Residents are encouraged to take ‘take a book, return a book’. Anna built the Little Free Library to increase access to books, to promote a love for literature and reading, and to further increase a sense of community and sharing in Carney Place.

Defined as “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals” community is evident at Carney Place. Check out this video about Carney Place and feel free to contact us at 828-251-5702 to schedule a visit to this or any other Asheville Area Habitat neighborhood.

 

Jobsites Heat up for March Madness

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March Madness is here, but for Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity that means an influx of volunteer groups spending their spring break volunteering rather than heating up the basketball courts. The groups come from all over the country and bring with them volunteers, funds, and a surge of energy that matches any overtime game.

“The students bring a lot of enthusiasm to the jobsite. You can see them go through a transformation over the week that shows it truly is a life-changing experience for many of them,” says Charlie Franck, core volunteer with Asheville Area Habitat.

Most groups will work mainly on Habitat’s construction site in West Asheville, but some will also try their hand in the Habitat ReStore and on Habitat’s Home Repair sites. This year brings a mix of Collegiate Challenge and Global Village groups, comprised of college students and one national IT business. The groups are housed at Blue Ridge Assembly in Black Mountain, allowing them to enjoy the beauty of the mountains with access to hiking trails nearby. Each group will participate in a dinner with Habitat partner families who are in-process, allowing the volunteers an opportunity to get to know the people they are helping through their volunteer labor.

Visiting groups in March are:

Week One (March 2-6): Wilkes University (Pennsylvania), pictured above and in this Flickr album

Week Two (March 9-13): Heartland Technology Group (IT Company)

Week Three (March 16-20): Lesley University (Massachusetts); Ramapo College of New Jersey (½ week with Habitat, ½ week with other non-profits)

Week Four (March 23-27): University of Missouri

Construction Services Volunteer Coordinator Stephanie Wallace noted, “We are thrilled to welcome both new and repeat groups this year. Wilkes, Heartland Technology and University of Missouri are joining us for the first time, while Lesley and Ramapo are returning for the 4th time!”

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