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Habitat for Humanity Tops BUILDER 100 List for Private U.S. Home Builders

BUILDER magazine has ranked Habitat for Humanity as the No. 1 private home builder on BUILDER 100, its annual listing of the largest U.S. home builders. This is the second year in a row Habitat’s work across the country has been recognized as a top builder of affordable housing in the U.S.

Each year, BUILDER compiles data from U.S. builders and ranks them by the number of closings for BUILDER 100. With 3,237 closings in 2015, Habitat topped the private home builder list and placed No. 16 on the comprehensive list.

Our Towns Habitat for Humanity is one of nearly 1,400 Habitat organizations in the U.S. and has worked in North Mecklenburg and Iredell County for 31 years, helping families achieve the strength, stability and self-reliance they need to build a better future for themselves through decent and affordable housing. In calendar year 2015, 34 families partnered with Our Towns Habitat to build or improve places they can call home.

“We are honored to be recognized as the top private home builder on this year’s BUILDER 100,” said Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity International. “This is a wonderful achievement for us and it could not have been accomplished without the support of our donors and volunteers, who help us empower families through shelter in every community we work in throughout the U.S.”

Our Towns Habitat for Humanity to Participate in the Largest Business Tradeshow and Networking Event in Lake Norman

The Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce Business Expo is a great way to learn more about businesses and nonprofits serving our local area, including Our Towns Habitat for Humanity.

On June 2, the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce Business Expo will showcase businesses and non-profit organizations from Huntersville, Davidson, Cornelius and the greater Lake Norman area. Last year, the event boasted over 150 exhibitors in fields such as healthcare, banking, security, insurance, car buying and event planning.
Our Towns Habitat will be on hand to share information with the community on opportunities to support our affiliate, such as volunteering, donating to our ReStores, or financially sponsoring a home. There are countless ways that both businesses and individuals can get involved with Our Towns Habitat for Humanity, and help make sure our friends and neighbors have decent, affordable housing.

Running from 11 a.m.-5 p.m., the Expo is open to the public and admission is free. It will take place at Davidson College Belk Arena, located at 200 Baker Drive in Davidson. For more information, please visit https://www.facebook.com/LKNBizExpo/.

Class of 2016: Plan for your Future after High School or College Graduation

If you are looking for an opportunity to make an impact in this community, consider serving with Our Towns Habitat and AmeriCorps as a construction crew leader.

Participation in the AmeriCorps program provides benefits to both the construction crew leaders and to families and communities. AmeriCorps members help families by building and renovating houses alongside those in need of decent, affordable housing. They strengthen communities by enabling local Habitat offices to use volunteers more effectively and bring diverse groups together in a common cause.

Tom, a current construction crew leader with Our Towns Habitat for Humanity, described the program by saying, “We’re providing families in need not only with decent housing but also an opportunity to take ownership of and care for their homes and communities.”

For the AmeriCorps members, the program allows them to develop skills in construction and leadership, which will prove invaluable in whatever endeavor they choose to pursue after completing the program. It also promotes a sense of citizenship in the AmeriCorps members, as they are inspired by the hundreds of volunteers with whom they will partner.

Construction crew leaders commit to 10 ½ months of full-time service starting in September. As compensation, they are provided with housing, a living stipend and an education award to be used within seven years to pay for education costs at qualified educational institutions, or repay qualified student loans already incurred.

For additional information or to apply for a construction crew leader position, please click here.

Reflections on my Trip to Guatemala

By Lareka Knox, Director of Family Services

Often, stories about mission trips focus on the physical aspects of the trip, like the work that the team did. Having recently returned from my second Global Village trip to Guatemala, I’d like to instead share how the trip affected me and why it was truly a life-changing experience.

Last year, during my first trip to Guatemala, I experienced first shock, then sadness, then even anger that people actually lived in such poverty. Because of this, I wasn’t able to fully engage in the experience. This time, while the pervasive poverty was still heartbreaking, it instead made me feel determined and resolved to do more. This transformation, in turn, gave me the space to be present, live in the moment, and absorb everything the Guatemalan culture had to offer.

Similarly, I returned with renewed appreciation for all my many blessings. Some Guatemalans do not have things we just take for granted, like hot water and indoor plumbing, and the trip served as a reminder to be grateful for all the advantages I have been given.

The trip also pushed me beyond my comfort zone and made me realize that I am stronger, both physically and mentally, than I ever imagined. In this, the Guatemalan people set a powerful example; they persevere despite adversity. So not only did I help build latrines, carry cement blocks up a steep hill, and dig trenches, I faced and overcame a personal health crisis that arose on the trip.

Finally, I have built lasting relationships that span geographic, economic, social, and cultural borders. In fact, since my return, I have been in communication with the family with whom we worked during the trip. Through social media, she said, “The doors to the house are always open for all of you. May God bless you.”

Our Towns Habitat Team Carries our Mission across an Ocean

On April 9, a team of 17 people from our local Habitat of Humanity, including four staff members and I, boarded a plane to spend 10 days working to build homes, community and hope in Guatemala. This is our story.

The trip wasn’t easy. Hauling sand and rock up a four-story hill, one bucket at time, tested our muscles and squeezed our lungs. But more painful was the sight of so much poverty. According to one guide, more than two-thirds of the nation’s 17 million people live in poverty.

Six-year-old Natalie and her family, with whom we had the opportunity to work, are just one example of the widespread poverty. Initially, Natalie stayed close to her mother, but during the week, she bravely stood closer to us. She played games and taught us how to say words like “circle” and “sunshine” in Spanish. By the last day, Natalie had made us part of her family.

We came back as family too. Working together to build walls for someone else broke down any walls that stood between us. We laughed together, comforted each other when we hurt and shared a week full of memories that none of us will ever forget.

Our Towns Habitat for Humanity and Habitat for Humanity of Guatemala have a deep, long-standing relationship. In 1987, Our Towns Habitat sent a tithe check for $1,139 to build one home in the war-torn country. Now, nearly 30 years later, Our Towns has given a total of $2,217,041 to provide over 623 housing solutions in Guatemala.

On the day we boarded the plane for our return trip to the U.S., I overheard a stranger in the airport ask a member of our team, “How long will you keep going to Guatemala?” The team member replied, “Until everyone in this beautiful country has a decent place to live.”

I pray that others will join us next year as we plan to continue building in Guatemala.

Yours in Christ,
Jeff Porter
Executive Director

Wildcats Raise the Roof

A time-lapse video of Davidson College students roofing a new Our Towns Habitat home.

Our Towns Habitat for Humanity and Valspar Team up for National Neighborhood Week

To mark the start of the summer painting and home improvement season, Our Towns Habitat for Humanity is partnering with Valspar to build decent and affordable homes to strengthen communities through Valspar’s National Neighborhood Week, May 9-14.

Employees from Valspar’s Davidson facility are volunteering with Our Towns Habitat on May 10-11 and May 13, assisting two future Mooresville homeowners with shingle preparation and the installation of doors, windows, a metal roof and more.

In addition, on May 14, employees from Valspar’s Statesville facility will be building a wheelchair ramp for a Statesville-based homeowner as a part of Our Towns Habitat critical repair program and assisting the Mooresville ReStore with processing donations.

“We’re delighted to receive the continued support from Valspar and its employees,” said Jeff Porter, executive director of Our Towns Habitat for Humanity. “Thanks to Valspar’s commitment, we’re able to build strength, stability, self-reliance and shelter for families in North Mecklenburg and Iredell Counties.”

More than 500 employees from Valspar’s 30 U.S. locations are volunteering with Habitat For Humanity organizations across the country during National Neighborhood Week. In addition to volunteers, Valspar is providing more than $2.5 million in cash and product donations to support 51 Habitat organizations, including nearly $60,000 for Our Towns Habitat.

“National Neighborhood Week is all about creating opportunities for children and families to build better futures,” said Kimberly Welch, Valspar vice president of Communications and chair of The Valspar Foundation. “Our employees are excited about volunteering with their local Habitat to contribute to its mission of helping families in need have a decent, affordable place to live.”

Valspar donates paint for every Habitat home built, repaired or refurbished in the United States — a total of 2.5 million gallons through the end of 2015. Valspar also is a founding partner of the A Brush with Kindness program, which helps low-income homeowners who struggle to maintain their homes. The program helps transform neighborhoods by painting, landscaping and providing minor exterior home repairs for people in need, many of whom are elderly, veterans or disabled. Since co-founding the program in 1998, over 15,000 families have been helped through A Brush with Kindness.

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About Our Towns Habitat for Humanity
Our Towns Habitat for Humanity is a 501(c)(3) organization bringing people together to build homes, communities and hope in North Mecklenburg and Iredell Counties. Habitat homeowners build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage. In addition to new home construction, Our Towns performs critical home repair services to alleviate serious health, life and safety issues. Our Towns aims to serve 52 families in 12 months through new home construction and repairs. To learn more, visit ourtownshabitat.org.

Valspar: If it matters, we’re on it.®
Valspar is a global leader in the coatings industry providing customers with innovative, high-quality products and value-added services. Our 11,000 employees worldwide deliver advanced coatings solutions with best-in-class appearance, performance, protection and sustainability to customers in more than 100 countries. Valspar offers a broad range of superior coatings products for the consumer market, and highly-engineered solutions for the construction, industrial, packaging and transportation markets. Founded in 1806, Valspar is headquartered in Minneapolis. Valspar’s reported net sales in fiscal 2015 were $4.4 billion and its shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange (symbol: VAL). For more information, visit www.valspar.com and follow @valspar on Twitter.

Media Contacts:
Erin McCloskey, ASPIRE Communications for Our Towns Habitat For Humanity (336) 207-5222

Kevin Olson, Valspar (612) 375-7374

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