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AmeriCorps Get Things Done

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By Maddy Alewine  It’s hard to put into a nice, neat paragraph how AmeriCorps impacts Asheville Habitat and in turn, the community. This year’s five AmeriCorps- Sydney, Billy, Nora, Kaitlyn, and Mackenzie- started their year with us jumping in head first, taking on each new challenge with gusto and passion.

The Unpaid Bills… But Not the Kind You’re Thinking

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By Sydney Monshaw

Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity has many unpaid Bills – but not the kind you’re thinking. These Bills have chosen to be left unpaid, donating their time and energy, often a few times a week, to help build and repair homes for families, primarily in Buncombe county. Though one Bill volunteers in Henderson County, too! There are seven Bills in total, but as Bill Durant a Friday Core volunteer mused, “Comparable to the stack on my desk – both are increasing.” While this group started as something silly to refer to the growing number of core volunteers named Bill who receives their pay in the form of gratitude and sore muscles, The Unpaid Bills has become an identity for these men who make up a community within the larger group of weekly Core Habitat construction volunteers.

Bill Reid, Bill Ryan, Bill Winkler, part of the Thursday core volunteers

Bill Lineberry

This group of dedicated Bills ranges in years of experience, some having as many as 15 years as a volunteer. The rookie Bill, also the medical Bill (a retired doctor), will be celebrating his one year anniversary as a core volunteer this December. Most, however, fall somewhere in the middle, with about 7 years of service on average. At least one Bill is out on the new home construction job site almost every day of the week! On Mondays Bill Winkler represents the “Unpaid Bills,” Tuesday Bill Bechtold and Bill McDowall hold down the fort, Thursday Bill Winkler joins Bill Reid and Bill Ryan for his second shift of the week, and on Friday Bill Durant, Bill Kantonen, and Bill Lineberry are working hard to close out the week. All of these Bills are committed to building a better future, one day at a time.

When asked what they enjoy most about volunteering, here is what a few Bills had to say:

“I enjoy all aspects of volunteering -The work fits my desired activities and skill set; the other volunteers and staff are exactly the type of people I enjoy being around – the BEST! The satisfaction of contributing to the Asheville community is highly rewarding.” – Bill Winkler (Tuesday, Thursday)

“I enjoy most the camaraderie with my fellow volunteers and in helping people who are willing to try to improve their situation in life.” – Bill Durant (Friday)

Bill Durant

“Helping folks, camaraderie of the build teams, and learning how to build/repair things the right way. (Also the nutritious break time snacks.)” – Bill Reid (Thursday)

“Helping deserving people have a home of their own while working with great bunch of people. It has also been a great hands-on learning experience. Although I had done some construction work and have a General Contractors License, I was surprised at how little I really knew.”– Bill McDowall (Tuesday)

Bill McDowall

“There are multiple factors that I like about volunteering, foremost among these are:

  1. The efficiency of the Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity Organization
  2. The professionalism of Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity staff
  3. The camaraderie among Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity volunteers
  4. The opportunity to contribute to the local community in a meaningful way.” – Bill Bechtold (Tuesday)

Bill Bechtold

 

“What I like best is the combination of fun work that benefits the community and the opportunity to work with great future homeowners (super folks), great staff, and great volunteers. Making a difference.” – Bill Ryan (Thursday)

Bill Kantonen

You would never know that the Bills go unpaid at Habitat. They work with integrity and commitment, living out the mission of Habitat – bringing people together to build homes, communities, and hope. For them, it is about so much more than the lumber, nails, paint, and shingles that create a house – it is about the community, camaraderie, and sense of belonging that truly builds a home. Bill Bechtold captured perfectly the feeling of being one of the “Unpaid Bills.” He said, “Being an Unpaid Bill reminds me to feel grateful that I am healthy enough and fortunate enough to do something meaningful in the community for people who deserve a hand up.”

Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity is fortunate to have so many unpaid Bills who keep coming back week after week. They, like all of the core volunteers, take home their pay stubs in the form of muddy boots and strong friendships, and they wouldn’t have it any other way.

Core Construction Volunteers Honored

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“Core” Construction volunteers are those who help Habitat build and repair homes on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. Last year, these core volunteers helped Asheville Area Habitat build 14 new Habitat houses in Swannanoa, Shiloh and West Asheville. They also repaired 33 existing homes in Buncombe County. We thanked and recognized them with a breakfast event at Warren Wilson College recently. Click here to see photos.

“While these folks don’t volunteer for the recognition or the accolades, we feel it’s important to thank them and honor the immense contribution they make to our organization and the community at large. Without volunteers – especially the cores who we can count on week after week – we would not be able to build and preserve communities,” notes executive director Lew Kraus.

In 2014, 74 core construction volunteers collectively contributed more than 16,000 hours of service to Asheville Area Habitat! To put that in perspective, 1,700 individuals volunteered on a construction site last year, collectively providing a whopping 35,000 hours of service! 46% of those total hours (16,000 hours) were completed by just 74 individuals – the “core” volunteers!

Among this core group, were 10 individuals who contributed more than 300 hours and one who topped the scale at more than 600 hours! Habitat congratulated and thanked:

Top Ten Hours volunteers

CJ Obara – 640 hours
Dick Allen – 622
Ken Clark – 454
Bob Laveck – 424
Jerry Ray – 407
Bill Reid – 343
Ray Ducharme – 321
Kevin Cox – 316
Ross Akin – 315
Paul Finegan – 309

In total, 32 core construction volunteers were recognized for contributing more than 250 hours of service last year, each receiving a golden hammer to signify the milestone.

Habitat also recognized those who hit significant longevity milestones. The honorees were:

10 Year Award – Alan Lang and CJ Obara
15 Year Award – Ted Faber and Cliff Joslin (pictured

In addition to Construction volunteers, Habitat utilizes volunteers in the ReStore, administrative office and on committees. These volunteers are recognized in separate appreciate events. Collectively and across the entire organization, nearly 2,100 volunteers contribute more than 64,000 hours to Asheville Area Habitat in 2014.

With a volunteer hour valued by Independent Sector at more $21/hour, this equates to a “gift” of more than $1.3million. Volunteer labor helps keep construction costs low and houses therefore affordable to the families who purchase them (from Habitat). Kraus added, “The Habitat model only works with a strong volunteer component. We cannot overstate the value of volunteers to our organization”.