Tag Archive for: Habitat for Humanity

Warm Up With Some Fair Trade Coffee

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Did you know that the Asheville Habitat ReStore sells Guatemalan roast coffee from Dynamite Roasting Co.? By the bag and the cup! Find it in the bookstore area of the store, on the upper floor.

Proceeds from the sale of this coffee go to Habitat for Humanity Guatemala for the installation of Healthy Home Kits (smokeless stoves, sanitary latrines, and water filters) in the homes of Guatemalan coffee farmers. “Selling coffee that directly helps ensure Guatemalan coffee farmers have a decent and healthy home, brings our work full circle,” said Scott Stetson, ReStore General Manager.

“Our farmer friends work so hard to provide us with coffee crops of exceptional quality. When they and their families are healthy, communities grow stronger in their region- and in ours. A healthy farmer makes the world healthier in countless ways. This partnership between Dynamite Roasting Co. and Habitat for Humanity is direct action with immediate results. We are thrilled to put this positive plan into motion,” said Josh Gibbs, co-owner Dynamite Roasting Co.

Makenzie Brown, Habitat Guatemala Donor Relations Officer added, “We are grateful for our partnership with Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity. It is because of such support that we are able to work alongside Guatemalan families, and together, improve their quality of life. Today, 46% of Guatemalans use an inadequate latrine or no sanitary services at all, 95% of the water in Guatemala is contaminated, and 52% of Guatemalans suffer from respiratory disease. It is our hope that with each Healthy Home Kit, a family will make a small change that will have a big impact in their home.”

Proceeds from the ReStore have been supporting Asheville Habitat’s building programs since 1990, when the resale shop (then known as the Habitat Home Store) first opened its doors on Biltmore Avenue. Supporting a sister affiliate in Guatemala through the sale of coffee, is another way the ReStore supports Habitat’s vision of a world where everyone has a decent place to live.

Learn more about Habitat Guatemala’s Healthy Home Kits.

Learn more about Dynamite Roasting Co.

 

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.

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.”

 

 

Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity Partners with Dynamite Roasting Co. to Ensure More Healthy Homes

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The Habitat ReStore will soon be selling Guatemalan roast coffee from Dynamite Roasting Co. – by the cup and the bag. Other area retailers will also sell the bagged coffee, which will be available in mid-late November, just in time for holiday gift giving.

Proceeds from the sale of this coffee will go to Habitat for Humanity Guatemala for the installation of Healthy Home Kits (smokeless stoves, sanitary latrines, and water filters) in the homes of Guatemalan coffee farmers. “Selling coffee that directly helps ensure Guatemalan coffee farmers have a decent and healthy home, brings our work full circle,” said Scott Stetson, ReStore General Manager.

“Our farmer friends work so hard to provide us with coffee crops of exceptional quality. When they and their families are healthy, communities grow stronger in their region- and in ours. A healthy farmer makes the world healthier in countless ways. This partnership between Dynamite Roasting Co. and Habitat for Humanity is direct action with immediate results. We are thrilled to put this positive plan into motion,” said Josh Gibbs, co-owner Dynamite Roasting Co.

Speaking of Guatemala, a team of 12 Asheville Habitat volunteers are leaving for Guatemala this weekend (October 21, 2017) to help install Healthy Home Kits. To support this endeavor, the ReStore’s “Register Round Up” program is being directed to Habitat Guatemala during the month of October. Customers can choose to “round up” their purchase to the nearest dollar. Fashor example, if your purchase totals $9.60, you can round up to $10 and the 40 cents will be donated. “Its small change that adds up and makes a big impact,” said Asheville Habitat staffer and trip leader, Joel Johnson. “For example, the cost of a smokeless stove is only $100 USD, but it will change the lives of Guatemalan women and children dramatically. Most have severe respiratory illness because they are not cooking or heating with proper ventilation.”

Makenzie Brown, Habitat Guatemala Donor Relations Officer added, “We are grateful for our partnership with Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity. It is because of such support that we are able to work alongside Guatemalan families, and together, improve their quality of life. Today, 46% of Guatemalans use an inadequate latrine or no sanitary services at all, 95% of the water in Guatemala is contaminated, and 52% of Guatemalans suffer from respiratory disease. It is our hope that with each Healthy Home Kit, a family will make a small change that will have a big impact in their home.”

Proceeds from the ReStore have been supporting Asheville Habitat’s building programs since 1990, when the resale shop (then known as the Habitat Home Store) first opened its doors on Biltmore Avenue. Supporting a sister affiliate in Guatemala through the sale of coffee, is another way the ReStore supports Habitat’s vision of a world where everyone has a decent place to live.

Learn more about Habitat Guatemala’s Healthy Home Kits.

Learn more about Dynamite Roasting Co.

 

Wicked Weed Donates $75,000

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Rick Guthy (left) presents check to Andy Barnett, Robby Russell and Beth Russo of Asheville Habitat

 

Recently, Wicked Weed Brewing’s co-founder Rick Guthy presented Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity with a $75,000 donation. “We are very grateful to the Guthy family and to Wicked Weed for their generous gift. We will use this gift to build a safe, affordable Habitat home in our new community in Arden, just up the road from Wicked Weed’s corporate offices,” said Kit Rains, Development Director for Asheville Habitat.

Asheville Habitat’s Executive Director Andy Barnett added, “I am grateful for Wicked Weed’s philanthropic leadership. With this generous investment in Habitat’s mission, Wicked Weed makes it clear that they believe our community can be a place where everyone has a decent, affordable place to call home.”

Committed to Accountability and Transparency

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Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity has attained the coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator! This highest possible rating verifies that Asheville Habitat adheres to sector best practices, executes its mission in a financially efficient way, and has strong financial health and a commitment to accountability and transparency.

Since 1983, we have offered affordable homeownership and home repair services to qualified Buncombe County individuals and families who earn 30-70% of Area Median Income (AMI). Asheville Habitat has built more than 300 new houses and repaired 200 existing homes, helping nearly 1,400 adults and children build a better future.

Since 2002, using objective, data-driven analysis, Charity Navigator has awarded only the most fiscally responsible organizations a 4-star rating. Charity Navigator President and CEO Michael Thatcher noted, “Attaining a 4-star rating verifies that Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity exceeds industry standards and outperforms most charities in its area of work. This exceptional designation from Charity Navigator sets Asheville Habitat apart from its peers and demonstrates to the public its trustworthiness. Approximately only a quarter of rated charities achieve this distinction!”

“It is important that our donors know we are superior stewards of their funds and this 4-star Charity Navigator rating provides them with that level of confidence,” added Kit Rains, Asheville Habitat’s Development Director.

If you’re interested in getting involved with our work, please click here.

 

Every hand makes a difference

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With volunteers central to our business model, we are recognizing milestones and thanking volunteers with small gifts and mid-day meals during National Volunteer Appreciation Week Habitat (April 23-29).

Whether you’re swinging a hammer at the construction site, fixing a floor at a home repair project, accepting donations at the ReStore, answering the phone in the office, or serving on a committee, each volunteer action directly impacts Habitat’s ability to serve more families in need of a decent and affordable place to live. Last year, 1,800 volunteers contributed 65,000 hours of service – at a value of more than $1.5 million!* Another way to look at it: the hours contributed by volunteers equates to having an additional 30 full-time staff members!

Every hand makes a difference and Habitat is grateful for the commitment of all volunteers, whether they helped one time or once a week, for the first time or for many years. Speaking of longevity, a number of our core volunteers (those who make a weekly or bi-weekly commitment) reached noteworthy service milestones in 2016.

  • Ray Ducharme and Bob Laveck (Construction) and Phil Casey, Bill Crownover and Alan Williams (ReStore), met the 15 year service mark.
  • Husband and wife duo Ken and Carol Deal reached their 20 year anniversary of volunteering together on the construction site.
  • ReStore volunteers Helen Andrews and Bruce Tettemer have been volunteering in the ReStore for 20 years.
  • Shirley Studwell (ReStore) celebrated 25 years of service with Habitat!

Some fun facts about Asheville Habitat’s volunteer program:

  • In 2016, through programs such as Global Village, Thrivent Builds Worldwide, and Collegiate Challenge, as well as the signature “Before the Jam, Lend a Hand” volunteer event, Asheville Area Habitat hosted volunteers from 28 different U.S. states and 3 countries.
  • It takes 1,650 hours of volunteer labor to build one Habitat house.
  • Habitat utilizes about 140 volunteers in the ReStore each week.
  • Core volunteers (those who volunteer on a weekly or bi-weekly basis) contributed 43,038 of the 65,000 hours of service!

Thanks to our volunteers (and donors, sponsors and ReStore supporters), Asheville Habitat built 14 new houses and repair 43 existing homes last year, helping to address our region’s affordable housing crisis and providing opportunities for families to build better futures.

If you’re interested in volunteering with us, please click here to learn more and sign up.

 

Spring Break Builders

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By Sammie Smith, Hands and Feet of Asheville Intern

Every March, our construction site fills up with excited college students participating in their Alternative Spring Break. Collegiate Challenge – or as we affectionately call it, March Madness – brings students from schools all over the country to Asheville for a week of volunteering. This year, we hosted students from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Lesley University (Massachusetts) and Ramapo College (New Jersey). One of the highlights of these service trips is the Wednesday night dinner with a future Habitat homeowner.

The most recent dinner included volunteers from both Leslie and Ramapo. In addition to enjoying fellowship and a delicious meal (thanks to a Thrivent grant), the students reflected on the work they’ve done at the construction site and how it has impacted them. Kit, from Lesley University spoke about how amazing the construction supervisors are and how “they take the time to carefully teach us how to complete the tasks on the jobsite”. Ramapo student Carlie noted, “It was rewarding to see the progression throughout the day from just dirt and rocks to a clean, insulated crawl space.” She went on to talk about how important stable housing is for kids to excel in school. Another Ramapo student reflected on the comradery among future homeowners stating, “I’ve been amazed by the sense of community…Homeowners working on each other’s houses even before they move in. Every step is awesome!” After a few days of working on the construction site and in the ReStore, Shannon, from Lesley University shared “the more I learn about Habitat, the more I fall in love with the organization!”

Jeff Paul, Habitat’s Homeowner Counselor, explained to the students the comprehensive process that Habitat homeowners go through: from initial application, through sweat equity hours and homeownership education classes, to the final walk-through just after closing. He talked about the importance of a safe, decent, and stable place to call home and then introduced future homeowners Tim Bromely and his wife Jenny Giannetto and their three children. Tim talked about how excited their oldest son is to soon have his own room and what it will mean for their family to finally have stability. (They have moved 7 times in the last 9 years.) And he expressed deep gratitude to the students for their service with Habitat.

Thank you to all the Collegiate Challenge volunteers who dedicated their spring break to volunteering with Asheville Habitat! We are consistently impressed by these young adults who make service a priority in their lives and get involved in a hands on way, with causes that matter to them. When asked why she came to Asheville Habitat for spring break, Cheryl, a student from Ramapo College said, “Affordable housing is such a huge issue in the United States. If I can contribute in a small way, it’s worth it!”

To see photos, click these links: Ramapo, Lesley, and Southern Illinois.

 

Building More than Houses

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Each February, we celebrate our Construction Services volunteers with an Appreciation Breakfast. This year nearly 80 volunteers and staff members gathered as we celebrated collective accomplishments, honored longevity, recognized significant hourly contributions, and talked about the future.

Here are a few highlights shared during the event:
• More than 50% of the total volunteer hours contributed to Asheville Habitat’s construction program in 2016, were contributed by 80 construction “core” volunteers! These folks volunteer on our jobsite at least one day each week.
• Collectively, construction cores provided 17,570 hours of volunteer service!
• 28 cores each contributed more than 250 hours of service last year. Each received a golden hammer pin.
• The highest hours earner was CJ Obara, with 641 hours!

Longevity awards recognize years of volunteer service:
• 5 years – Beth Greck and Buddy Tallant
• 10 years – Ross Akin, Alan Cutter, Joyce Davis, Lou Farquhar, Neil O’Sullivan, Ken Roth, Sharon Waugh, Jim Worley
• 15 years – Ray Ducharme, Bob Laveck
• 20 years – Ken and Carol Deal (pictured, R)

We celebrated staff milestones, too. John Meadows has been a Construction Supervisor for 10 years and Kenny Busch just reached the 15 year mark!

Director of Construction Services Paul Reeves noted that 2016 was a year of change, with multiple staffing changes and four different building sites. None the less, our staff and volunteers rose to the occasion and served the largest number of families to date. 44 Home Repair clients and 14 new homeowners in Buncombe County now have decent and affordable housing.

Looking forward, we’ll be moving to Arden in the early summer to begin a 21-house subdivision, and we’ll be building a Habitat house in McDowell County as part of the SECU Challenge to build or renovate 100 houses in 100 NC counties. Also, we will solidify plans to introduce multi-family housing on a 16-acre parcel in West Asheville that the City of Asheville is helping us secure.

Home Repair Supervisor Joel Johnson thanked his core volunteers, Lonnie Lief and Garland Walker, who have been volunteering consistently for 3 years. Home Repair is unlike new construction in that the scope of work varies from project to project and the jobsite often changes daily. It’s difficult to plan a volunteer calendar in advance, so we appreciate Lonnie and Garland’s flexibility and commitment to the growing Home Repair program.

We were also pleased to be joined by Jeff Staudinger (pictured below), the Community Development Director for the City of Asheville, who was able to put Habitat’s contributions into the larger affordable housing context. He expressed the City’s enthusiasm for Habitat’s upcoming higher density neighborhood in West Asheville (currently referred to as Cedar Hill). Staudinger also referenced statistics from the Bowen Report and reiterate the City’s commitment to creating new public/private partnerships, and continuing to work to remove barriers, increase density, and strengthen the relationship between housing and transportation. “Shelter is the foundation for everything else,” he noted. “And as Habitat volunteers, you are working directly on the affordable housing crisis.”

In closing remarks, Executive Director Andy Barnett reminded the audience, “You are volunteering regularly to build the kind of community you want to live in…you are the hearts, hands and voices of affordable housing. You embody our mission.”

Habitat volunteers build and repair houses – and they build community. They help families build strength, stability and self-reliance. If you would like to be part of the affordable housing solution, click here to learn about Habitat volunteer opportunities.

To see event photos, please click here.

 

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