Celebrating a Year of Building Hope

Thank you all for making this year such a great success. Because of your hard work, sacrifice and commitment, we met our goal of getting 18 families into 18 homes in 12 months. We also exceeded our goal of keeping 34 families in their homes through critical repair services by 6 homes, for a total of 40 families served by this program.
One poet writes, “One extends one’s limits only by exceeding them.”

I applaud you, the Our Towns Habitat family, and celebrate for the way you exceeded our limits. You provided permanent housing solutions for 58 families in the past 12 months—that’s more than one family a week.
Because of you, Angela and Robert can provide a safe place for their three girls to live, sleep and play. You made it possible for Dawn to “enjoy the sounds of peace in my own backyard,” for the first time in her life. Patricia, a multiple machine operator at a local plant, who was close to giving up on everything, now spends her evenings and weekends in a home she built with you.

We can do so much more.

We have more than 40 families ready to build a home with us, and countless others whose hope of keeping their home includes Habitat. Staff members push me to reach higher, volunteers inspire me to do more and those in need of a decent place to live make me ashamed of my hesitancy.

Please join me. We have just kicked off a new 12-month campaign to build another 18 homes and to save another 40 houses for families in our area. Materials cost more now than they ever did before, and land prices are climbing every day, but we have a dedicated staff, committed volunteers and brave donors who are ready to meet this challenge.

Please keep reading these articles. Follow our progress; root us on and join us as we make our world a better place for everyone.

I praise God for you,

Jeff Porter
Executive Director

Be Energy-Savvy and Make Cooling Your Home Less Expensive

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As the temperature continues to rise this summer, your power bill doesn’t need to increase by extreme degrees too. Here are some strategies from Duke Energy to conserve energy and save money on your energy bills.

• Close the drapes on the sunny side of your home while you are there, or close all window coverings if you are leaving for the day.

• Turn off unnecessary lights and use energy-efficient fluorescent light bulbs, which use less energy and give off less heat.

• Seal air leaks with caulking and weather stripping, and minimize door traffic to keep the cool air inside.

• Use heat-producing appliances such as your dryer, dishwasher and range during the cooler nighttime hours.

• Turn air conditioners to the highest comfortable setting. Duke Energy recommends 76 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit when you’re home and 80 degrees while you are away. Adjusting your thermostat up a few degrees will have a significant impact on your cooling bill, saving approximately 30 percent on your summer cooling costs.

• Clean or replace your air conditioning filter monthly, or as needed.

• Keep coils on the exterior air conditioning unit free of dirt, grass clippings and leaves.

For more information, go to https://www.duke-energy.com/north-carolina/savings/air-conditioning.asp.

Teamwork, Timing Help Keep Elderly Couple Cool and Safe this Summer

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When Ralph and Edna came to Our Towns Habitat seeking critical repair assistance, the couple, both in their 90s, were facing a choice between two dangerous threats to their health.

They could continue to operate their malfunctioning HVAC unit and risk it leaking carbon monoxide into their home, or they could turn the unit off and face the health risks that extreme heat poses for the elderly.

For Edna, who suffers from breathing issues and uses a portable oxygen tank, and Ralph, who is in a wheelchair and largely confined to the house, these risks are even greater.

Fortunately, Tiylisa, a future Our Towns Habitat homeowner, had been touting Habitat’s programs to her employer, NGK Ceramics, and the company expressed interest in a partnership. NGK Ceramics’ Community Relations Specialist Ashley Golden met with Our Towns Director of Development Courtney Hurd to discuss a proposal for the company to assist with critical repairs in the Statesville area, where the tremendous need for such repairs far outstrips the funding. Hurd shared the personal stories of several Statesville families, including Ralph and Edna, who needed repair help.

Golden was enthusiastic about the proposal, explaining, “We want to help in our community as well as give our members an opportunity to help. We feel like this outreach program will benefit all of us in the future.”

A team from NGK Ceramics eagerly jumped in to help Ralph and Edna. Shortly after the meeting, Golden brought her team—Jeff Link, maintenance manager; Josh Abernethy, maintenance tech; Tamara Harris, purchasing coordinator, and a representative from Trane Systems and Services—to visit the couple in their home. Within days, the source of the problem was identified, the necessary part was installed, and Ralph and Edna have a fully functioning HVAC system to keep them cool this summer.

Ralph and Edna’s daughter, Chris, expressed that her family was grateful that NGK Ceramics and Our Towns Habitat came into their lives, calling it “truly a blessing.”

Golden and her team were also touched by the experience. “It was a pleasure to be able to help such a deserving couple,” Golden said. “You can definitely tell they are a loving family. We at NGK Ceramics look forward to partnering with Habitat for Humanity toward critical repairs in the future.”

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

How to Stay Safe and Cool While Volunteering This Summer

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Planning on volunteering this summer? Beat the heat with Our Towns Habitat’s warm weather and safety tips!

First, never underestimate the effect of heat or the importance of water. We’re sure you’ve heard this one before, but make sure you are drinking lots of water or other fluids (like Gatorade) during the work day. It’s easy to get caught up in what you are doing during a build, so make sure to take frequent breaks for water and rest. Remind other volunteers on site to do the same, so that no one forgets to hydrate.

Heat index is a measure of how hot it actually feels when both heat and humidity are taken into account. Always keep heat index in mind because even if the temperature is in the 80s, the heat index can be much higher. If the heat index reaches 90 degrees or above, volunteers should be sure to take breaks every hour to avoid heat exhaustion.

It is also important to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays by using sunblock. Wearing a hat is also advised in order to further protect your face and head. Sunblock is kept on site, so if you forget to apply or need more sunblock throughout the day, be sure to ask your site supervisor.

At each house during a build, there should be fans in the house and in a cooling tent on site, as well as a cooling station (such as a van or truck with air conditioning) so take advantage of these to cool down. Also be sure to follow the “buddy system” with volunteers to monitor each other for signs of dehydration and heat exhaustion.

A particularly heat sensitive task during a build is roofing. In hot weather, roofing crews should be rotated out every few hours so that volunteers on the roof are not exposed to the sun for extended periods of time. Roofing should be avoided during the afternoon when the heat is the most intense. While roofing is happening, there should be spotters on the ground, as well as controlled access zones to avoid objects falling on workers below.

By following these simple steps, you as a volunteer greatly reduce your risk of heat exhaustion or on-site injuries. Volunteers should always put the health and safety of themselves and others first on a work site. Stay alert to the signs of heat exhaustion in yourself and other volunteers, make sure to notify the site supervisor of any safety concerns and remember that it is okay to stop what you are doing to rest, hydrate, and cool down. We hope these tips help you to have an even better volunteer experience in these summer months!

Volunteer Spotlight: Maria Dorta Mora

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The eclectic nature of a Habitat ReStore seems a fitting environment for new volunteer Maria Dorta Mora and her eclectic life. Maria first came to Our Towns Habitat’s Cornelius ReStore as a shopper, and her shopping experience, coupled with the staff and volunteers she met at the store, led her to volunteer.

“I like that you’re coming somewhere and enjoying yourself, but you’re helping too,” Maria said. “It’s a treasure trove every time you pick something up, but it’s also helping someone.”

Maria’s background before becoming a ReStore volunteer is as varied as the ever-changing merchandise that fills the store’s shelves. A self-described Army brat, Maria moved frequently growing up, until her father retired from the military and returned the family to their native Puerto Rico.

For 16-year-old Maria, the move was complete culture shock. She wasn’t used to the heat, everybody knew everybody, and everywhere she went, someone was feeding her. Eventually, though, she adapted and grew to love the island and its people. It was in Puerto Rico that she had the opportunity to study at the prestigious newly-opened School of Visual Arts & Design—a time she calls the best four years of her life. It was also in Puerto Rico that she met her husband, Milton.

“I fell madly in love with him, and he with me,” she said. Dreaming the dreams of youth, Maria planned to travel the world, join the Peace Corps, and pictured her new husband coming along for the fun ride. Then the reality of making a living set in.

“My husband studied pottery and I was also an artist, and you know what they say about artists—you just starve to death,” Maria said. Early in their marriage, the couple found their way to Miami, and her husband went back to school to become an MRI technician. Maria dabbled in any job she found interesting where she had a chance to meet new people—from swim instructor to baker to barber.

“You name any job, I probably did it, because I want to meet all kinds of people and do all kinds of things,” Maria said. She finally settled on cutting hair, after a bad experience at a salon with her own hair.

All along, Maria continued to pursue her art on a freelance basis. Maria and Milton moved to Charlotte nearly four years ago, after 32 years in Miami. Now retired from cutting hair, Maria dedicates more time to her art, and sells items on her Etsy store, Full Circle Inventions. She puts her artistic background to work at the ReStore, helping price artwork that is donated and putting together floral arrangements with donated silk flowers.

Ultimately, she says, like many of her other pursuits, it was people that brought her to the Cornelius ReStore. “I’m here because of the people—they’re all interesting, they make it fun, and they all have like minds that they want to help other people.”