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Library Programs Teach Children to ‘Learn & Build’

Part of our mission here at Our Towns Habitat is education—about what we do, the need and how people can help—and we believe in planting the seeds young! Our summer children’s program at public libraries allows children in our community to “Learn and Build” with Habitat.

Through our Learn and Build program, we have traveled to five different libraries and worked with more than 70 children ages 3 to 14. Lowe’s Home Improvement generously donates wood kits for these programs, which children use to build one of several projects including bird feeders, planters and tic-tac-toe boards.

Youth who attend this program have the opportunity to try their hand at “construction” using real hammers and nails (and of course safety glasses!) to build something tangible to take home. The program aims to teach children about Habitat, our mission and what we do, and to teach some very basic construction skills.

While the program is about teaching, it is also about empowering the children by showing them that they too can build something, despite being young. The program shows them that they have the ability to use tools and make something–an ability that they might not have known they had before. This is much the same way that Habitat empowers families to build their own homes and a better future.

Through the “Learn & Grow” program, Our Towns Habitat widens the reach and impact of our values and our mission. We hope to promote growth, empowerment and a desire to help in the community that will stay with participating children into their adult lives.

Volunteer Spotlight: Andrea Hartley

Our Towns Habitat ReStore is a perfect place for volunteer Andrea Hartley to put all of her skills and talents to work.

Andrea initially visited the ReStore as a shopper, first at the Cornelius ReStore to shop for furniture for her nursery, and then at the Mooresville ReStore for miscellaneous reasons.

One day while shopping, Andrea was approached by the manager, who had noticed her good eye and creative style, and asked her to participate in the ReStore’s design challenge. As a new stay-at-home mom with time on her hands, Andrea accepted and entered her first design challenge. She competed against seven other designers, who were each provided a 10’x10’ space to decorate with things bought from the ReStore.

The design challenges gave Andrea a chance to showcase her talents and meet other people with similar interests. During Andrea’s second design challenge, she met the owner of Davidson’s Rumor Mill, a market that sells the artwork and products of many local artisans, who offered her the opportunity to sell her products at the market.

With a background in construction and some retail experience, these design challenges—and her eventual volunteer work in the Mooresville ReStore—allowed Andrea to draw on all of her areas of interest. “This is the one place all of my skills come together—retail, construction and my love for junk!”

Since the design challenges, Andrea has helped with silent auctions, repurposing furniture and fixing things around the ReStore. She is always working on projects—picking out “well-loved” pieces that are overlooked and trying to make them into something usable and beautiful. Her upcycling started in college, when instead of going from store to store searching for the perfect piece at a good price, she would just make it herself.

For the ReStore, Andrea has put this talent to great use. She has done a wide span of projects, from repurposing filing cabinets, to upcycling a screen printing table, to repainting couches, to turning a $25 wood-frame sofa into a swing valued at $250.

Not only does Andrea work on pieces “behind the scenes,” she also writes do-it-yourself blog articles for Our Towns Habitat to inspire others to join in the upcycling. She has even done a couple news spots, during one of which she showed how to chalk paint end tables. People were calling in about the tables before she had even completed them!

Andrea has only been volunteering with the Mooresville ReStore since September, but she feels that the experience has already given her so much. The ReStore became an unexpected but pivotal part of Andrea’s life.

“One comment, one suggestion, changed my whole life path. I hope I can do that for someone else,” Andrea said. “If it weren’t for ReStore, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing.”

Salvage Program Helps Recycling Efforts, Keeps Construction Costs Down

North Mecklenburg and Iredell County residents remodeling their kitchens and bathrooms can offset construction costs by using Our Towns Habitat’s salvage program, and support affordable housing at the same time. At no cost, professionals are available to carefully extract and remove cabinets, countertops, appliances, sinks, toilets and more.

In addition to the free service, participants will receive a tax deduction for all donations. The items donated are resold in one of the Our Towns Habitat For Humanity ReStore locations in Cornelius and Mooresville, with funds used to build affordable housing locally.
“At Our Towns Habitat we strive to build bigger and better communities,” said Jill Laney, director of ReStores for Our Towns Habitat for Humanity. “By offering our salvage program, we’re not only keeping harmful materials out of landfills but we’re also able to raise funds to assist families with new home construction or critical home repairs.”

Within Our Towns Habitat’s service area, more than 5,000 families currently live in substandard housing. New home construction is part of the solution to get families out of overcrowded and unsafe living conditions. In addition, critical home repairs have helped people in urgent need, uplifting lives and revitalizing neighborhoods.

For more information, visit ourtownshabitat.org or call Joe Sloan at (704) 201-0633 to schedule a pick-up. You can also follow Our Towns Habitat on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Our Towns Names New Director of Operations

Our Towns Habitat for Humanity is welcoming Denise Copeland to its leadership team as the organization’s new director of operations.

While new to Our Towns’ staff, Copeland is certainly not new to the organization. She has been a volunteer since 2002, when she got involved through her then-employer and strong partner of Habitat for Humanity, Lowe’s Home Improvement.

“I became hooked for the cause and have remained an ever more active participant year after year,” Copeland said of her passion for Habitat.
Copeland was a volunteer for Our Towns’ first Women Build and has been involved in every Women Build since. She has also served on the Finance and ReStore committees, as a board member for the past year, and led the past two affiliate mission trips to Guatemala.

Copeland will provide comprehensive oversight of the organization’s daily administrative, financial and operational functions, including enhancing internal processes and communication. Specifically, she will oversee the construction, family services, finance, human resources and ReStore divisions. In her new position, Copeland will also work with board members and staff leadership to develop a five-year strategic plan for Our Towns Habitat.

Copeland comes to Our Towns Habitat from Morton Salt Company, where she served as national account manager for Lowe’s, Orchard Supply Company and Menards. She brings experience in project and operations management, budgeting and forecasting, contract negotiations and new business development.

“We are thrilled to have someone with Denise’s skill set and passion for the Habitat for Humanity mission joining our leadership team,” said Executive Director Jeff Porter. “We are looking forward to having a fresh perspective on our operations as we work toward our mission of putting God’s love into action by bringing people together to build homes, communities and hope.”

Within Our Towns Habitat’s service area, more than 5,000 families currently live in substandard housing. New home construction is part of the solution to get families out of overcrowded and unsafe living conditions. In addition, critical home repairs have helped people in urgent need, uplifting lives and revitalizing neighborhoods.

For more information, visit ourtownshabitat.org. You can also follow Our Towns Habitat on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Curtis & Family Escape the Poverty Trap With Stable Home

When you live paycheck-to-paycheck, everything gets more expensive. Curtis is a perfect example of this cycle that traps many working class people.

The trailer Curtis and his family lived in two years ago had only two bedrooms—for a family of five.

Eventually they found a larger house to rent in Cornelius—but it was old and in disrepair. The state of that house ended up costing Curtis a lot more than his monthly rent. Leaky plumbing meant higher water bills. No central heat meant sky-high power bills for space heaters that barely kept them warm last winter in a drafty house lacking insulation.

And when paying the utility bills meant Curtis didn’t make the rent on time, he got hit with late fee–and the plumbing problems still weren’t addressed.

This is the trap created by a lack of affordable housing. This is the trap that Curtis and his family are escaping by partnering with Our Towns Habitat for Humanity by building their own home. Curtis’ commitment to earning 400 sweat equity hours and to paying an affordable monthly mortgage builds a strong foundation for his children.

Curtis two sons, Curtis III, 14 and Caleb, 13, and his 11-year-old twin girls, Trinity and Takia, will be starting back to school in different schools because of this move—but they will now have the stability of knowing they won’t have to keep changing schools for future moves. Curtis saw the toll that moving from place to place took on his kids’ grades for awhile, and he knows this added security will make a difference in their academics.

While balancing time to work on the construction of his house with a job that often requires overtime wasn’t always easy, Curtis feels fortunate this his employer, Metrolina Greenhouses, was supportive of him and offered the flexibility he needed to complete his sweat equity hours. Metrolina is also a strong supporter of Our Towns Habitat and our mission to provide affordable housing.

Curtis found the time he spent both working on construction and in the ReStore rewarding because of the opportunity it afforded him to meet new people and build relationships. When it was time to landscape, his whole family came out to work, since even his youngest children could participate in this task.

Curtis sees his new home as a family base—somewhere his kids can come back to even when they’re older if they ever need to. “We’re finally settled,” Curtis said. “I’ve told my kids they cannot sell this house.”

Through all of the financial uncertainty Curtis and his family have faced, they have leaned on faith to bring them through. “I know through everything, God is going to provide a way,” he said.

Curtis’ home was made possible through the financial sponsorship of Davidson United Methodist Church, whose members also worked alongside Curtis to build his home. This home represents the 18th home sponsored by DUMC in partnership with Our Towns Habitat. To learn more about sponsorship opportunities with Our Towns Habitat, email  or call 704-896-8957.

Home is Where the Kitchen is

When Sabrina and her two sons—Tracy, 19, and Tresean, 17—move into their new Habitat home, there’s likely to be a lot of tempting aromas wafting out of the new kitchen. Tracy, who graduates this Saturday from Mooresville High, will be studying culinary arts this fall at Johnson & Wales. He loves to bake just about anything, and is something of a sushi chef, so the family kitchen is sure to be a busy place.

Sabrina’s family has been living in a subsidized apartment for 11 years, with Sabrina paying rent that kept increasing to an unaffordable rate and the boys sharing a bedroom. They are all looking forward to having their own space—the brothers already have plans for how they will set up their rooms.

Sabrina, Tracy and Tresean, a junior at Mooresville High who is interested in studying sports medicine, all worked together to put in their sweat equity hours and build their new home. They fit in construction hours into their work schedules—Sabrina is a graphic designer at Logo Nation and the boys work at Groucho’s Deli in Mooresville.

“The hardest thing was getting up on Saturday mornings,” Sabrina admits, “but it was worth it.” She and the boys have learned a lot of new skills along the way—her favorite being installing insulation.

Sabrina came to Our Towns Habitat for Humanity after she learned that a friend’s daughter had partnered with Habitat to buy an affordable home. After nearly two years of waiting, Sabrina is ready to stop paying too-high rent and is looking to “having something that’s going to be mine,” she said.

June Brings Back-to-Back Blessings

Our Towns Habitat for Humanity had the fortune of blessing two new homes last month, back to back.

On June 6, homeowner Vee accepted the keys to the new house he helped build in Cornelius, which he will share with his four children. Vee’s road to homeownership was not easy—he had to pay off collection debt before he could be accepted into the program, then had to work his sweat equity hours around his job as a truck driver.

The family of five is leaving overcrowded conditions from the two-bedroom apartment where they were living, and Vee says his children are thrilled about having a home of their own. The whole family helped decide on colors and finishes for the house and they picked out new furniture together, too.

Vee’s home was sponsored by Kilwin’s of Huntersville and the Lake Norman Faith Coalition, which includes Mt. Zion Baptist Church, Lake Norman Baptist Church and Saint Mark Catholic Church.

“I want Habitat and the sponsors to know how much I appreciate what they have done for me, and what they do for the world, to give people hope and encourage them to give back,” Vee said, noting the experience has motivated his family to volunteer more and find other ways they can give back to the community. “What they did for me, words cannot explain.”

The day after dedicating Vee’s house, Habitat homeowner Sabrina was able to celebrate her new home in Mooresville. Sabrina will live in the home with her two teenage sons, Tracy and Tresean. Tracy, who just graduated from Mooresville High, hopes to go to culinary school and particularly enjoys making sushi, so Sabrina’s new kitchen may be a busy place. Tresean, a senior, is interested in studying sports medicine.

Before coming to Our Towns Habitat, the family has lived in a subsidized apartment the past 11 years, which was still unaffordable on Sabrina’s salary as a graphic designer. Their new home will allow Tracy and Tresean to have their own bedrooms for the first time.

Affordable housing is a cause that is important to Lowe’s, who sponsored Sabrina’s home, according to Community Relations Manager James Frison.

“Building your home is not a do-it-yourself project,” Frison noted. “It takes a team.” In addition to providing financial support, Lowe’s employees assisted with landscaping and other volunteer help to build the house. Sabrina’s house is one of 1,000 the company plans to help build this year.

Sabrina’s home was also sponsored by Wells Fargo and through SHOP and HOME grant funds provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Keep Busy This Summer By Lending a Helping Hand in Your Community

Looking for a way to fill up those empty days during your summer? Want to help in your community with Our Towns Habitat? Need a way to help the kids beat the heat, and the boredom while on summer break? Then you’ve come to the right place!

Our Towns Habitat has many opportunities coming up in these summer months for both kids and adults. Volunteering is a great way to get outside, meet new people, and make a difference in the lives of others. Below is a schedule for our upcoming youth opportunities. All youth projects will be at 9830 Psalms Street, Cornelius.

Date
Project
Age Group
8/20
Painting
14-15
9/10
Interior trim
16-17
9/17
Paint trim
14+
9/24
Interior hardware
16-17
10/8
Landscaping
14+

There are also many upcoming adult volunteer opportunities. The schedule for those projects are below. These projects all occur at different sites, so please note the location of each project.

Date
Project
Site Location
7/9
Vinyl siding
136 Burke Circle, Mooresville
7/16
Porch beam, trusses prep, etc.
9830 Psalms Street, Cornelius
7/23
Sheath roof, etc.
9830 Psalms Street, Cornelius
7/23
Sheath roof, etc.
138 Burke Circle, Mooresville
7/30
Shingle roof
9830 Psalms Street, Cornelius
8/6
Metal roof
138 Burke Circle, Mooresville
8/13
Framing
146 Burke Circle, Mooresville
8/16
Vinyl siding
9830 Psalms Street, Cornelius
8/20
Paint walls
9830 Psalms Street, Cornelius
8/27
Sheath roof
146 Burke Circle, Mooresville
9/10
Metal roof
146 Burke Circle, Mooresville
9/10
Interior trim
9830 Psalms Street, Cornelius
9/17
Vinyl siding
146 Burke Circle, Mooresville
To sign up for any of these opportunities, please take a few minutes to register on our website.

Volunteer hours for all projects are 7:45a.m. -1p.m. Volunteers should arrive promptly at 7:45a.m. for safety instructions. You may park on site. Wear clothes that you don’t mind getting messy and closed-toed shoes. Also, don’t forget sunscreen and a water bottle!

All volunteers will need to print and complete the Volunteer Waiver forms on our websiteand bring it to the project site. No prior experience is required, and you don’t need to bring your own tools, but work gloves are recommended. Construction schedule is subject to change, so be sure to check Volunteer Up before your scheduled build day. We hope to see you at the work sites in the upcoming months!

In addition to construction volunteers, we also have many volunteer opportunities in our ReStores and our office. These opportunities are on-going and have flexible and workable hours. If interested, please email cathy@ourtownshabitat.org.

Preparing Your Home to Brave Summer Storms

We’ve already had our share of severe storms this summer, and Our Towns Habitat wants to help you make sure your home is ready for future storms. These tips will help you to prepare your home so storm damage can be avoided or minimized.

Make sure that you are always paying attention to your trees. Regular maintenance and pruning will keep trees healthy and will help eliminate the risk of damage by falling dead branches. Branches that are touching or close to the roof should be trimmed to avoid scratching and further roof damage due to blowing branches during a storm. The most severe damage from storms often results from trees falling, so if you have any trees that may be dying, you may want to hire an arborist to evaluate it and possibly remove it.

Keeping your gutters clean is also a critical maintenance task. Blocked gutters can cause rain water to build up and damage your roof, attic or siding. You will also want to make sure that downspouts are clear and that they are moving water away from the foundation of your house. While you are at it, inspect your roof in order to assure that there are no damaged shingles or tiles.

You may also want to have a battery backup for your sump pump, or a whole second battery powered sump pump. This is especially important if you have a finished basement and will help to avoid an overflowing sump basin.

If you are aware of a storm approaching, you should secure your lawn furniture and other outdoor items in advance. This will help to keep items from being damaged or from being picked up by strong winds and becoming projectiles.

Lastly, you should know what is covered by your home insurance policy in terms of storm damage. You may want to consider extra coverage. If your home does sustain damage from a storm, be sure to report the damages to your insurance agency as soon as possible.

We hope these tips will help keep your home secure and damage-free as these summer storms roll through!

Energy-Efficient Homes Support Health & Financial Stability

Summertime harms those lacking safe and affordable housing. Children and the elderly are most at risk during the summertime. Heat amplifies the destructive forces of pollution and stresses the respiratory system. Asthma attacks increase, especially at night when temperatures can stay about 85 degrees.

According to Dr. Paul Epstein at the Harvard School of Public Health, “Heat waves take a disproportionate toll on those living in poor housing lacking air conditioning, and those with inadequate social supports.”

Our Towns Habitat builds safe, energy efficient homes that are affordable to heat and cool for all of our homeowners. Some of our families never had air conditioning until they purchased a Habitat home.

Not only are our homes cool in the summer and warm in the winter, their temperatures are maintained at an affordable price. All of our homes are LEED certified. LEED stands for “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.”

“LEED homes reduce energy cost by increasing efficiency standards for heating and air conditioning systems,” Our Towns Construction Manager Manny Rosado said. “By doing this, we are also preserving the environment and leading in home design.”

Please help us keep children and the elderly safe this summer by supporting Our Towns Habitat for Humanity. Your financial gifts make it possible for us to bring joy back into summertime.

Yours in Christ,
Jeff Porter
Executive Director

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