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Working on a Dream

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by Jonathan Dermid

Some might consider “The American Dream” a bygone ambition, the idea of owning one’s own home a pipe dream. Thanks to perseverance, hard work, and a caring community, the Ender family will soon realize their dream and purchase a home of their own.

“The American dream is to have a house of your own. Over the years, and coming out of a place of poverty, to try to get to that has been a struggle,” Michelle Ender said. “We’ve moved from New Jersey to Leicester to Weaverville to West Asheville. Not because we couldn’t pay rent, but something would happen where the landlord would be selling the home or something like that.”

After hearing about Habitat’s homeownership program through their church, the Ender family began the application process and was absolutely thrilled to be approved. “We know it’s not a giveaway; we have to pay a mortgage and work (do sweat equity). But thank God the house will be in our name and Habitat makes it possible to have affordable housing,” noted Michelle.

More than anything, Michelle looks forward to the sense of permanence that her own home will provide.

“With the kids now, we’ve moved 6 times, so just having a place to call our own, to decorate on our own, is wonderful,” she said. “It’s a place to call home, a place the kids can come back to when they’re older.” Adequate space is also desired, as they currently live in an overcrowded situation. Their youngest child sleeps on the couch.

On their journey towards homeownership, they are spending a good bit of time at the ReStore earning sweat equity hours and getting to know volunteers. “Becoming a homeowner through Habitat also shows you what it’s like to volunteer here…everyone is so positive and nice and welcoming and they obviously care.”

Eric Ender, Michelle’s husband, a handyman by nature, has found a niche in the appliance and electronics repair area. One of their (3) children, Eric Jr, is also volunteering in the ReStore alongside his dad. Sharing a passion for music and the technology involved, the father-son duo was very excited to learn of a sweat equity opportunity in the repair area. Brian Haynes, a ReStore Assistant Manager, is equally excited. “This is a big help to the ReStore as electronics had been piling up because we did not have anyone to test them.”

In addition to volunteering at the ReStore, the Enders have spent many hours helping to build their home and the homes of their neighbors. Echoing his wife’s sentiments about the hard work that goes into Habitat homeownership, Eric Sr. adds “Habitat houses are built with love, and you can feel that.”

The Enders 4-bedroom/2-bath home in West Asheville is the 17th Interfaith House, sponsored by a diverse coalition of local faith congregations.

Habitat Announces First “Business Bungalow” House

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Affordable housing is one of the most pressing unmet needs in our region. A recently released report* indicated that the combination of a lack of affordable units, a critically low vacancy rate and a significant projected population growth will make housing availability in our area, especially affordable housing, a rare commodity.

Thanks to an anonymous donation through the Community Foundation of WNC, Asheville Area Habitat is pleased to announce that its first-ever “Business Bungalow” House will soon begin in West Asheville. All donations to this house by local businesses, will be matched (up to $25,000) by this caring donor.

The donor, who wants to address the affordable housing shortage head-on, is offering this match to encourage the business community to get involved and be part of the solution. “This is an opportunity to work together to build a Habitat house, address a pressing community need, and most importantly, transform the life of another local family,” said Betsy Warren, Sponsor Coordinator for Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity. “We are enormously grateful to this donor and we’re excited to partner with the local business community to collectively address the lack of affordable housing in the area.”

How to get involved:
Donations of all sizes are welcome and appreciated. All donors will receive a special window cling (decal), be recognized in AAHH’s annual report (printed and online) and be included in a printed program at the dedication of the house. Click here to Donate and select Business Bungalow under Area of Support.

Businesses that give $250 will be recognized as Housing Champions and will also receive the following benefits: the option to schedule one on-site volunteer workday, and a listing on AAHH’s website for the duration of the build (approximately six months).

Sponsorship opportunities ($1,000 and up) are also available. To learn more, visit http://bit.ly/AAHHsponsorships or contact Betsy Warren, Sponsorship Coordinator, at bwarren@ashevillehabitat.org  or 828.210.9363.

 

*The January 2015 Regional Housing Analysis by Bowen Research Group, commissioned by the City of Asheville.

 

Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity and Lowe’s teamed up for National Women Build Week

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On Friday, May 8th, local Women Build volunteers and Lowe’s Heroes employee volunteers were among more than 20 volunteers who joined Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity to help build affordable housing in Asheville as part of National Women Build Week, May 2-10.

In recognition of National Women Build Week and in celebration of a well-loved Women Build volunteer, Habitat hosted a dedication ceremony mid-day in honor of Barbara Reynolds, a woman known by Habitat volunteers as the “Women Build Lunch Lady.” For many years, as a way to stay involved after aging out of swinging hammers, Barbara made lunch once a week for the Women Build volunteers, always with a secret ingredient, which she made them guess. Barbara died suddenly last year. To honor her, the Women Build Advocacy Team raised $10,000 for the “Barbara Reynolds Memorial Kitchen” with an online crowdfunding campaign and through memorial gifts given after Barbara’s death. After a potluck on the jobsite, an apron embroidered with the Women Build logo and “Barbara Reynolds Memorial Kitchen” was presented to Christina Demorgoli, the future homeowner of the Women Build House.

Demorgoli noted that although she never had the opportunity to meet Barbara, she felt a closeness with her because of all the love shared among the people that were present at the event and even those who loved Barbara but were not able to be there today. “All this love for Barbara will be felt in my new kitchen, in my new house,” she said.

In addition to the dedication of the kitchen, Lowe’s presented a $5,000 check to Asheville Area Habitat. Those funds will pay for materials used in the Women Build House.

To see photos from the event, click here.

National Women Build Week is a week-long event created by Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build program that challenges women to devote at least one day to help build affordable housing in their local communities. Across the nation, more than 15,000 women volunteered at Habitat construction sites last week to spotlight the homeownership challenges faced by women.

Lowe’s helped launch National Women Build Week in 2008 and each year provides the support of Lowe’s Heroes and conducts how-to clinics at stores to teach volunteers construction skills. “National Women Build Week has made a difference in the lives of thousands of families since its inception,” said Joan Higginbotham, Lowe’s director of community relations. “We’re grateful to all the women in Asheville who got involved this week and were part of something bigger with Lowe’s and Habitat.”

Lowe’s donated nearly $2 million to this year’s National Women Build Week, including $5,000 to Asheville Area Habitat. National Women Build Week is one of the major initiatives supported through Lowe’s national partnership with Habitat for Humanity. Since 2003, Lowe’s has committed more than $63 million to Habitat and helped more than 4,000 families improve their living conditions.

Habitat’s Women Build program recruits, educates and inspires women to build and advocate for simple, decent and affordable homes in their communities. Since the program was created in 1998, more than 2,300 homes have been built in partnership with low-income families using Women Build crews. For more information on Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build program and to learn about Women Build events in communities across the U.S. year-round, visit Habitat.org/wb or the Women Build tab on http://www.facebook.com/habitat.

 

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!”

Give the Gift of Habitat

Looking for the perfect gift? Look no further! When you give to Habitat*, you build much more than houses. Houses become homes. Communities take shape. And dreams once out of reach before possibilities. This holiday season, please help more families host gatherings, play safely in their neighborhood, save for college, and take their first-ever family vacation. Your support changes lives in Buncombe County, so give the gift of Habitat today and cross another item off your holiday shopping list. Thank you!

* To acknowledge your gift, Habitat will send a card to your honoree. 

Please click the button below to donate and give more families the opportunity for a new start.

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ReStore Thanks Customers with Big Sale

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We’re saying thanks to the community for its ongoing support by offering 25% off storewide from 9am until 6pm on Saturday, September 13th. All ReStore merchandise – including furniture, housewares, appliances, building materials, antiques and more – will be 25% percent off! 98.1 The River will be broadcasting live from 9-11am, and free hot dogs and soft drinks will be served between noon and 2pm.

One of the highest ranked Habitat ReStores in the country, the Asheville Habitat ReStore was voted #1 Used Furniture Store in WNC by readers of Mountain Xpress, so check us out before you head anywhere else!

We are pleased to provide the community with a source for affordable home improvement items, while diverting 1,500 tons of usable material from the landfill each year!. And did you know ReStore proceeds help cover Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity’s administrative and fundraising expenses and provide funding for our building programs? So go ahead, shop — and feel good about it!

This kind of sale only happens twice each year, so come on out and see us on Saturday, September 13th from 9am until 6pm. Find a bargain and help us build and repair more homes in Buncombe County – without even lifting a hammer!

23 Years and Still Going Strong

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Last Friday, under a hot end-of-summer sun, we kicked off Labor Day weekend “Habitat-style”. With the help of local United Methodist and Presbyterian churches, Elisabeth Pallante and her husband Joshua London celebrated new beginnings as they raised the very first wall of their new home.

Local Presbyterian and United Methodist churches have been helping Asheville Area Habitat build homes for 23 years now; each year renewing their commitment to provide funds and volunteers to help build. This year, members of the various congregations along with the London-Pallante family and Habitat staffers socialized over lunch before raising the first wall. View pictures here.

We are grateful to these sponsoring Presbyterian Churches (PC) and United Methodist Churches (UMC):

Abernethy UMC
Asbury Memorial UMC
Central UMC
Christ UMC
Francis Asbury UMC
Grace UMC
Groce UMC
Oak Hill UMC
Oakley UMC
Sardis UMC
Skyland UMC
Snow Hill UMC
St. Paul’s UMC
Trinity UMC
Black Mountain PC
Christ Community Church – Montreat
First Presbyterian Church of Asheville
Grace Covenant PC
New Hope PC
Reems Creek-Beech PC
Warren Wilson PC
West Asheville PC

And did you know that each home’s lot has a sponsor that helps to offset the cost of purchasing and developing the land for the home. An Adopt-a-Lot sponsor donates $10,000 and a challenge grant supports the remaining $5,000 needed for each lot. We are grateful for this home’s Adopt-a-Lot sponsors: David M. Greiner & James A. Gray.

Habitat Welcomes Jill Franklin Home

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Originally from Asheville, NC, Jill Franklin is excited to return to her hometown and thrilled to have the opportunity to continuing working for Habitat for Humanity.

Recently hired as Family Selection Coordinator, Jill will be responsible for administering and documenting the family selection application process for our homeownership and home repair programs. This is familiar territory for Jill who has spent the past eight years in the same position at Habitat for Humanity of Charlotte (NC).

Prior to her career with Habitat Jill worked in banking and brings proficiency in mortgage loan origination and processing. She is also an NC Certified Housing Counselor, trained to provide advice on buying a home, renting, defaults, foreclosures, and credit issues.

Jill holds a B.A. from Appalachian State University and a B.S.B.A, Administration and Marketing from UNC-Charlotte. When not at work, Jill can be found hiking, traveling, and spending time with family and friends.

Welcome to the Asheville Habitat team, Jill — and welcome back to Asheville!

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.