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A Concentrated Dose of Habitat

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The first week of September in South Bend, IN was what our Executive Director Andy Barnett affectionately coins “the Olympics of Habitat,” referencing the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project. An annual “Blitz Build” this event unites upwards of 600 individuals around the common vision of a world where everyone has a decent place to live. This year, the 35th annual Carter Work Project was hosted by Habitat for Humanity of St. Joseph County where volunteers built or improved 41 home in Mishawaka and South Bend, Indiana in one week.

Kenny Bush, our Senior Construction Supervisor and South Bend native, and our Construction Supervisor Emily Stevens led a team of Asheville Habitat volunteers on this epic Habitat trip. The Asheville team worked alongside others on House #20 amidst a block of twenty-two single family homes. 25-28 volunteers worked on each house, every day. “We started the day under a huge tent with breakfast, daily updates and logistics report, and a devotional. There were 600 people under the tent every morning,” Emily remarked about the magnitude. “Being amid of sea of so many like-minded volunteers was amazing. That kind of energy would be hard to create anywhere else. Everyone was so positive, well-intentioned and there because of the cause.”

A homecoming for Kenny, the trip was the same for Ralph Johnson, an Asheville Habitat construction volunteer who also hails from South Bend. In fact, the street they worked on was just a block from where he grew up. The rest of our volunteers comprised four different work days; so although Asheville core volunteers, many did not know each other beforehand. But you can be assured that this trip created lasting friendships among these cores who have come back to Asheville with an even greater passion for the work we all do.

Having participated in Carter Work Projects in the past, Andy noted that “they are a concentrated dose of Habitat and a reminder that every local affiliate is a small part of a global network.”

There were many memorable moments experienced by each volunteer, but the one that stands out in the entire team’s mind was the “big reveal”. Future homeowner Loretta Adams had not told her two daughters about their future Habitat home. When Jimmy Carter himself broke the news to the young girls in the front yard of their future home, there was not a dry eye in sight. The Asheville team then showed the girls around their house and they each picked out their bedrooms and started talking about paint colors. Mom did have to draw the line and say no to pink walls in the living room.

Next year’s Carter Work Project will be in Nashville, TN, a short 4 hour drive for interested folks from Western North Carolina.

To see photos, please click here.

A Year of Service

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We are thrilled to introduce our newest class of AmeriCorps members. We welcome Nora, Kaitlyn and Mackenzie to our team. Sydney and Janice were with us last year and have returned for a second term!

My name is Nora Gilmer and I’m from Piney Flats, TN. I love being outside, coffee, and my goofy dog Gertrude. Last year, I served with AmeriCorps NCCC, Pacific Region. My team traveled to Washington, the U.S. Virgin Islands, California, and Oregon. As my time with NCCC came to an end, I was very excited to have the opportunity to move a little closer to home and start another year of service with Habitat!

 

 

My name is Kaitlyn Ferdinande and I am from Michigan. I recently graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU). I was really involved in the Alternative Breaks program at SVSU and worked my way up from Participant to Site Leader, and then served as the Fundraising Coordinator. The program opened up my passion for Social Justice issues such as affordable housing. I also worked as the Volunteer Coordinator in SVSU’s Student Life Center. I have worked with Asheville Habitat in the past as part of Alternative Break, and I am excited to now serve as the Volunteer Services Coordinator for the nonprofit during my AmeriCorps term.

 

Hi! My name is Mackenzie Hampson, and I’m originally from Baltimore, MD but have lived in Charleston, SC for the past five years. I went to the College of Charleston and earned my degree in Finance. I was a year round swimmer for nine years, but now I just enjoy any fun way of staying active. I love being outside as much as possible, whether it’s going to the beach, hiking, running, etc. I also love working with and helping people, and have found that joy through Habitat. I participated in two Collegiate Challenge trips through Habitat for Humanity and I’m thrilled to be continuing for a whole year!

 

My name is Sydney Monshaw and I am thrilled to be serving a second term as a member of the Asheville Habitat Home Repair Team! I graduated from NYU in 2017 with a degree in Sociology and a minor in Poverty Studies. Throughout my time in college I had the opportunity to work at several different non-profits including Appalachia Service Project, Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City, and The Corporation for Supportive Housing. I have known for a long time that safe, affordable, sustainable housing for everyone is something that I am passionate about and I am excited to spend another year working to make homes around the Asheville Area safer, more accessible, and more livable for families.

 

My name is Janice Marie Payne. I am originally a native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, currently celebrating my 3rd year of residency in Asheville, NC and married to the best husband ever, Samuel. I have six siblings, one biological son, three step daughters and six grandchildren with my husband. Included in our family is Marty, my 9.5 lb. miniature Yorkie Terrier who I just happen to think he’s the smartest and cutest dog in Asheville!

Being a Pastor’s wife has proven to be one of the most fulfilling events of my life. It allows me to meet people and share my experience as a leading lady in the Church. Music and singing is a vital part of my life and I also enjoy Sudoku puzzles, reading, traveling, and experimental cooking.

I am currently serving my second term as an AmeriCorps Vista Outreach Coordinator at Asheville Habitat for Humanity. This position affords me the opportunity to educate the public about Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity’s affordable homeownership and home repair programs. The position has connected me to communities in Asheville in ways I could never have achieved on my own, and I enjoy meeting and collaborating with others for positive community change.

 

 

 

 

Four More Families Home

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When drug activity in her neighborhood led to increased violence, LaQuila Harris and her daughter began spending their days at work and school, and their evenings anywhere but at their apartment. It was exhausting and LaQuila knew they could not continue living like that.

Kedric Justice noticed increased drug activity and crime where he was living too. Having lost his own father to violence, he was painfully aware that crime wasn’t just something that happened to other people. And, his rent had sky-rocketed to $900/month.

Drug activity was on the rise where Staci Williams and her children were living too. And because it was an income-based apartment, she feared getting a raise at work.

Benitia Henson had to convert a closet under the stairs into a makeshift bedroom for her son.

A search for something better led all of these families to Habitat. Thank you for making the opportunity to purchase a safe, affordable Habitat house possible for local families. Together, we will empower 1,000 more families in the next decade to build better futures on safe, stable housing.

To view photos from the 4-house dedication, please click here.

Thank you to the businesses & individuals who sponsored these homes: Bank of America Merrill-Lynch, the coalition of local business that supported the Business Bungalow House, Eaton, Ernest & Shirley Ferguson, The Ferguson Family,  friends of Jerry and Lou Towson who sponsored a lot in their name, The Guthy Family, our Legacy Builders Society, Publix Supermarket Charities, The Pullium Foundation, and Wicked Weed.

 

 

A Place to Call HOME

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Home is the Key

Tikisha wanted something better, a stable place to raise her family. Because her rent increased when her income increased, she one day found herself paying market rent for an apartment in public housing. While the rental unit itself was ok, it was located on a very busy street. She craved a place that would be reliably affordable, a place where she could plant a garden, a place with less traffic, and a place not subject to invasive inspections. She craved a place to call HOME. When her son Terrell was four years old, she purchased a Habitat house. “You have a whole different outlook when you own a home,” said Tikisha, a homeowner since 2001 who rests easy knowing that her home is hers and will remain affordable.

On the foundation of a safe and stable home, her son Terrell (now age 21) developed into a star student, participated in the marching band, and served as a volunteer youth attorney while in high school. “I have not forgotten my younger years in life, living in public housing, with no backyard or safe place to play,” Terrell wrote in his college entrance essay. A safe neighborhood and a quiet place for studying were exactly what the self-motivated young boy needed to thrive. Currently, studying abroad in New Zealand, he is a political science and environmental studies major at Lewis and Clark College in Oregon.

    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.

    Over the past 35 years, you have helped 500 local families unlock brighter futures. Please donate today so we can continue to make available to more of our neighbors, a decent place to call HOME – the key to unlocking limitless opportunities. Thank you!

    Alternative Spring Breakers Arrive in Asheville

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    March Madness is here, but for Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity that means an influx of student 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 excitement.

    Groups will work mainly on Habitat’s construction site on Jon Kraus Way in Arden, but some will also work on the Shiloh Community Garden.

    This year Asheville Habitat is hosting three Habitat for Humanity Collegiate Challenge groups, as well as a group from Florida and two students from Wisconsin.

    • University of Florida: March 5 – March 9
    • Lesley University(MA): March 12 – 16
    • Florida team : March 12-13
    • College of Charleston: March 19 – 23
    • University of Wisconsin: March 26 – March 30

    Construction Services Volunteer Coordinator Stephanie Wallace said, “We are so excited to welcome these Collegiate Challenge teams and other student groups from around the country. The amount of spirit and energy the students bring is infectious! We couldn’t be happier that these young adults chose Asheville, NC and our Habitat affiliate to make memories and connections that will last a lifetime.”

    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 families who are in the process of becoming Habitat homeowners, allowing the volunteers an opportunity to get to know the people they are helping through their volunteer labor.

    Check out this short video clip from WLOS.

    Habitat and its Roots in Racial Equality

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    Some people know that Habitat for Humanity was founded by Millard and Linda Fuller in Americus, GA, but where did the idea actually come from? Even fewer people have heard of Koinonia Farm, the community farm and social experiment in Sumter County, GA where the idea that became Habitat grew.

    Koinonia Farm

    On Martin Luther King Jr. Day this past week, Asheville Habitat showed the documentary Briars in the Cotton Patch, a documentary about Koinonia Farm, to staff and core volunteers. In 1942, biblical scholar and farmer Clarence Jordan began this farming community based on the radical (at the time) principal of white and black families living and farming together as equals. Koinonia faced years of boycotts, terror attacks, KKK intimidation, and violence while becoming a beacon of racial and economic equality during the Civil Rights Movement.

    Clarence Jordan, left, and Millard Fuller, right

    When the Fullers joined the farm, they began dreaming of service beyond Sumter County. Keeping Koinonia’s mission in the forefront- that of the Christian-based idea to bring all people together to alleviate poverty- the Fullers and Jordan began looking for a need to fulfill: housing. The Fund for Humanity became Habitat for Humanity, and despite being very unpopular in Sumter County at the time, it grew into the worldwide non-profit it is today.

    This week we reflect on our organization’s roots steeped in civil rights and campaigning for the poor, tenants that Dr. King spent his life championing for. “Everyone deserves a decent place to live” is something we say a lot at Habitat. It’s easy to forget the significance of such a simple word, “everyone.” This year, Asheville Habitat staff, volunteers, and partners engaged with the community in a number of ways to honor Dr. King.

    Three of our Americorp members spent the day at the Shiloh Community Garden. Lauren, Sydney, and Ryan worked alongside community members to reorganize the garden shed, put together bags of fresh produce, and spread mulch.

    A new art installment in Shiloh

    Lauren

    Ryan and Sydney

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Christ School students volunteered at the ReStore for their MLK Day of Service.

    A handful of projects the students completed.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    We are collecting cold weather items in the ReStore for BeLoved Asheville, a local non-profit that seeks to end homelessness, poverty, prejudice, and injustice. Most needed items are: winter coats, gloves, hats, socks, hoodie sweatshirts, sweaters, and sleeping bags.

    Several Habitat staff members and volunteers participated in the MLK Day march in downtown Asheville.

    AmeriCorps Member Reflects on a Special Day

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    The Most “Habitat” Day

    By Sydney Monshaw (pictured center and top far R)

    Towards the end of October I experienced a day so quintessentially “Habitat” it was almost unreal. As an AmeriCorps member serving with Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity on the Home Repair team, my days are fairly similar. Our small team works all over Buncombe County repairing everything from porches to roofs, and everything in between. On this particular fall day, however, my day started at a local attorney’s office and ended at a Habitat neighborhood of 10 new homes. On that singular day, I attended a closing with a new homeowner in the morning, worked on a Home Repair project down the road from Habitat’s newest neighborhood, and attended a 4-house dedication event in that same community later that afternoon.

    I had never been to a house closing before and was not entirely sure what to expect. What struck me most was the palpable joy in the room as the mortgage details were explained, documents were signed, and a young couple became homeowners for the first time. These two were so proud of all of their hard work, and rightfully so! Not only had they physically contributed to the construction of their new home, they had also completed a full series of homeowner education classes. They were set to move into their new space that afternoon and were eager to get I’s dotted and T’s crossed so that they could get back to packing and moving. This couple has three small children who were also excited to help their parents move all of their belongings, pick out their rooms, and turn their new house into a home.

    After the closing, I changed into my painting pants and work boots and jumped in our van to meet volunteers on our Home Repair job site. Our job that week was working on the home of the President of the Shiloh Community Association, scraping and repainting the exterior of her house. She is 80 years old and one of the busiest ladies I have ever met! She volunteers for a local radio station, goes on senior trips to explore nearby cities, and works tirelessly for the Shiloh community where she has lived for more than 50 years. It was great to be able to help her, and I could swear that on this day I saw the fresh coat of paint sparkle a little bit in the afternoon sun. Maybe it was just wet paint, but based on the way the whole day was unfolding, I think it was a little bit of Habitat magic.

    Later, after thanking my volunteers and sending them home tired and covered in paint, I walked up the street to Habitat’s McKinley neighborhood where the last four houses in the 10-house community were to be dedicated. The event was just getting started and as I walked down the street towards the big tent I remember feeling overwhelmed by the gratitude I had for the amazing people working at our Habitat affiliate and the incredible community I am lucky to be a part of. The weather was perfect with bright blue skies and fall foliage, kids were playing in the street, and Habitat supporters were mingling with construction folks and homeowner families. The best way to describe the dedication is elation personified. There was joy on the part of the homeowners, the donors, the volunteers, the Habitat staff, and all of the community members who were there to celebrate homes, communities, and hope.

    That day highlighted the incredible work that Habitat does every day. Homes are built by dedicated volunteers, with generous financial support of donors; homeowners pour themselves into their journey towards homeownership; and homes are repaired, enabling homeowners to live more safely and comfortably in their own homes. Habitat is a “hand up, not a hand out,” and that was especially evident on this special fall day. It was easy to see all the partnerships between homeowners, Habitat, and the Shiloh community. Together, we serve the needs of the community in a way that makes sense.

    I feel extraordinarily thankful to be spending my AmeriCorps term with Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity. Days like this incredible October day will stay with me for the rest of my life as a reminder of what hard work, dedication, and love can do.

    Build a Better Future With Your Holiday Gift

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    Perseverance is the cornerstone of Lindsay’s life. It is how she cares for her son with cerebral palsy, how she is five years sober, and how she mentors families struggling with addiction in her job as a Peer Support Specialist. Now, this cornerstone is helping Lindsay build a better future — on the foundation of a Habitat home.

    Make a gift this holiday season to support Lindsay, her sons, and other hard working families on their journey to build strength, stability, and self-reliance through decent, affordable housing.

    Every child deserves a foundation to build their future, and
    everyone deserves a decent place to call home.

    Please give a gift today.

    Note: If you’re making a holiday gift in honor of someone, let us know and we will mail a holiday card to them to acknowledge your gift. We request a minimum donation of $10 per card. If you live in Asheville and would like to pick up holiday cards to hand write, please stop by our office M-F between 8:30am and 5pm.

    Habitat Construction Supervisor John Meadows and Habitat homebuyer Lindsay review the floor plans of her future home in Arden.

    Homeownership Brings Friendship Full Circle

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    By Shannon Kauffmann

    I met Kelly Lucy (above R) about eight years ago when I was working as a childcare subsidy case worker. She was one of my clients. Kelly recalled, “I remember the very first time that I met you because I cried through the entire appointment. You probably thought I was crazy!” Nothing could be further from the truth. If she needed a case worker to cry to, she came to the right person.

    As a stressed out single parent myself, I had been on the other side of the desk many time before. Being employed as a full-time case worker meant that I earned just enough to disqualify me from receiving any public assistance, but not enough to pay the bills. One bi-weekly paycheck went towards paying the rent without a dollar to spare. I remember crying at the grocery store because I didn’t have enough change to buy a box of tissues for my sick child. Kelly may have been embarrassed about crying in my office, but seeing a single parent in tears was neither surprising nor memorable; it was my life reflected back at me.

    Over the next eight years, I met with Kelly 2 or 3 times a year to renew her vouchers. I was always happy to see her name on my calendar because she came prepared and she made me laugh. We swapped stories about our boys and commiserated on the woes of single parenting. With our boys being close in age, we seemed to live parallel lives. If my son had gotten into trouble for making noises in class, I could be confident that Kelly had a similar story to tell. One appointment at a time, Kelly and I had become friends. We were no longer constrained by the case worker/client relationship.

    That being said, it’s no surprise that when I purchased a home through Habitat, I was eager to share my excitement with her. I explained that purchasing a home through Habitat completely changed my life, and my son’s life. Having a mortgage that was half of what I had been paying for rent, not only provided financial relief, it allowed me to be a better parent. The stress that came from not being able to pay my bills had turned me into someone I barely recognized. When I made my first mortgage payment and realized I had money “left over,” I literally felt as though pressure had been lifted from my chest. Knowing that Kelly was still experiencing that same suffocating stress, I encouraged her to apply to Habitat’s Homeownership program and hoped for the best.

    I had no way of knowing then, that when she applied, I would be the one to process her application. But that’s exactly what happened! When Kelly was in the process of applying for Habitat homeownership, I was in the process of applying for a job with Asheville Habitat. Without either of us knowing, Kelly and I had continued on separate, yet parallel paths. When I sat down at my new desk and saw her application, I was elated! Our friendship had come full circle.

    Kelly was the first homeowner I saw all the way through the process – from application to closing – as Asheville Habitat’s Homeowner Selection Coordinator, and I was invited to go with her to the attorney’s office to sign her mortgage documents.

    Watching Kelly sign her closing papers and accept the keys to her house brought tears to my eyes. It took me back to our first meeting many years ago, when Kelly was crying and I couldn’t afford a box of tissues! Back then, thinking that both of us would become homeowners was as absurd as thinking that both of us would win the lottery; and yet here we are. Because of Habitat’s interest-free loan and affordable monthly payments, Kelly and I can focus on being present for our children, and also for each other. With both of our boys approaching puberty, we will continue on our parallel paths as single mothers, meeting every few months to commiserate, to laugh, and to cry — and for old time sake, we will take turns buying the tissues.

    Kelly’s new Habitat home in Shiloh is our first Legacy Builders Society House and Asheville Habitat’s 300th house!

    Shannon’s Habitat home in West Asheville was made possible by Warren Haynes Presents: The Christmas Jam (in 2012).

     

    Shiloh: Let’s Build! Campaign Built More Than Houses

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    This month, Asheville Habitat will complete the 10-home McKinley neighborhood off Taft Ave. in Shiloh, which also signifies the culmination of the three year Shiloh: Let’s Build! campaign. Houses built at McKinley (10), Creekside (4), and Caribou Corner (1) represent the 15 new homes that were part of the campaign. On the Home Repair side, we will come out ahead of the 30 project goal with 39 home repairs completed in Shiloh in the last three years!

    Click here to see photos from the recent dedication of the last 3 homes in Shiloh (and one built in McDowell County).

    We’d like to extend a big thanks to all the Shiloh: Let’s Build sponsors who supported this campaign to serve a minimum of 45 families in Shiloh through homeownership and home repair. Your support provided more individuals and families with the opportunity to build strength, stability and self-reliance on the foundation of a decent, affordable home.


    Habitat has been active in the Shiloh community since the mid-1990’s when we built the Wilson Creek neighborhood of 32 houses. Since then, we have built new homes, repaired existing ones, and recently worked alongside the Shiloh Community Association towards the goals laid out in the Shiloh Community Plan 2025 approved by Asheville City Council in 2010. We proudly leveraged our skills and worked alongside others with different proficiencies to help collectively address needs that go beyond housing.

    For example, Habitat built a storage shed and raised garden beds in the Shiloh Community Garden, helped bring electric service to the garden and pavilion, and donated a parcel of land adjacent to the garden. A Habitat volunteer constructed a Little Free Library for the garden using materials donated by Habitat and the initial collection of books came from the Habitat ReStore, among other sources.

    Habitat also partnered with Estes Elementary School to build a storage closet, install floors, and paint walls in their new Community Resource Center. The Resource Center provides food and clothing support for families of children attending the school and works to connect families to other resources in the community. The school serves approximately 75% of elementary school-aged children who live in the Shiloh neighborhood.

    Paul Reeves, Director of Construction Services for Asheville Habitat adds, “It is truly a pleasure for Habitat to be working in a community that has a clear vision for its future and residents who are organized, motivated and actively working toward increasing the quality of life for all of its community members. Shiloh has embraced our work in their community and sees us as a strong partner in providing affordable housing and home repair.”

     

     

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