Our Towns Supports Affordable Housing Abroad

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A group of Our Towns Habitat supporters are giving up the comforts of home this week to help Guatemalans have the comfort and security of their own home. This past Saturday, a team of 11 left for an 8-day mission trip to Antigua, where they are building a home for one Guatemalan family, as well as building latrines and smokeless stoves to improve housing conditions for other families.
At the core of Habitat for Humanity’s mission is the belief that everyone deserves a decent, affordable place to live. We work to meet that need through our local affiliates, such as Our Towns, who serve the neighborhoods where we live.

Even at the local level, though, we still work to fulfill the global mission. Our tithe program directs a percentage of unrestricted revenues to our partner affiliate in Guatemala. In addition to that financial support, Our Towns tackles the need for affordable housing in a hands-on way through Habitat for Humanity International’s Global Village program, sending a team of staff and volunteers to Guatemala every year to work on build projects.

Director of Operations Denise Copeland and Director of Family Services Lareka Knox are representing the Our Towns Habitat staff for this year’s trip. They are joined by other Our Towns volunteers and board members.

Both Copeland and Knox have been on Global Village trips to Guatemala before, and they say it helps reinforce to them the mission of their daily work with Our Towns Habitat.

“It’s a tangible experience for me, as I can see the immediate impact we are having in their lives,” Copeland said. She points out that Guatemalans do not have access to the same government support services and programs as are available here in the United States, which makes their work vitally important. “I always go there to be God’s hands and feet, but I always come back feeling like I was the one most blessed.”

Knox experienced a health scare on last year’s trip, but she is returning this year despite that, because she believes God has called her to be there, and will give the health and energy she needs to do the work. She says the trip helps her open her heart to people of all cultures.

“This trip reminds me that we are all different, not just in the way we look, but we have different ways of seeing and doing things,” she said. “Observing the culture in Guatemala expands my mind to consider ways I’ve never had to consider before. Even though we are all so different, we all have the same feelings, hopes and desires.”

The Global Village team will return to the United States this Sunday, exhausted but knowing they have helped build strength, stability and self-reliance through shelter. The team members appreciate prayer from other Our Towns supporters while they are abroad. We also invite you to support affordable housing here and abroad through a donation to Our Towns, which can be made in just a few minutes online.

Five Members Join Our Towns Habitat Board

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Our Towns Habitat for Humanity recently added five new members to its board of directors, each serving a three-year team. Those joining the board include: Matthew Blickley, Dan Dunn, Kay Fisher, Charles Warren and Tim Zarsadia.
Our Towns Habitat aims to build homes, communities and hope in North Mecklenburg and Iredell Counties.

Blickley, of Huntersville, is the senior director of financial planning and analysis for the Coca-Cola Bottling Company. Blickley has previously supported Our Towns Habitat through fundraising and is ready to expand his support to the organization’s mission through his board service.

Dunn is returning to the board with a longstanding history with the affiliate. Dunn once served as board chair, currently sits on the finance committee and has volunteered on a number of building trips to Guatemala. Dunn is the owner of Sunn Enterprises and resides in Davidson with his family.

With a deep passion for working with people at every economic level, Fisher, a Realtor, is adding her expertise to the board. Cornelius-based Fisher currently works at Keller Williams and serves on The Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce Diversity Council and is a board member of the Davidson Land Conservatory.

A current Habitat for Humanity construction volunteer, Warren is excited to expand his commitment to the organization as a new board member. The UNC-Charlotte graduate is a senior staff accountant with BGW Certified Public Accountants, PLLC, and is currently working on his CPA license.

Attorney Zarsadia’s law experience will be added to the Our Towns Habitat board. Zarsadia practices civil litigation with a focus on personal injury for The McIntosh Law Firm. Based in Huntersville, he enjoys coaching his three children’s tennis and soccer teams and is an active member of St. Mark Catholic Church.

“Our Towns Habitat is excited to have the expertise and guidance from such a diverse group of professionals,” said Executive Director Jeff Porter.“The leadership from each new board member will only continue to enhance and grow our services for families in need of affordable housing in our community.”

Our Towns Welcomes Patrice Reynolds as Development Director

Our Towns Habitat for Humanity is welcoming Patrice Reynolds to its leadership team as the new Director of Development.

Reynolds brings 30 years of nonprofit experience to the affiliate, working with both international agencies and small, local organizations. Her breadth of experience includes fundraising, board development, event planning, programming and volunteer coordination.

Most recently, Reynolds served six years as executive director for Friends of the Animals in Mooresville, where she led a four-year, $2.6 million capital campaign to build a pet education and adoption center. She has also previously worked for Hospice & Palliative Care of Iredell County, the Children’s Museum of Iredell County and the international humanitarian agency CARE, based in her native Atlanta.

A West Georgia College graduate, Reynolds’ early career was in education, with her first teaching job in Guatemala, which also happens to be Our Towns Habitat’s global tithe partner. Reynolds finds herself drawn to work with organizations that allow her to make a difference, and she sees that in Habitat.

“Habitat for Humanity is changing the world—it’s a worthwhile, credible organization with a life-altering mission,” Reynolds said.

She has seen the life-altering power of Habitat at work while volunteering on builds in Atlanta and Statesville. “It is truly moving to work alongside future homeowners and experience their profound joy and gratitude as they build their own home,” she said. “It’s sincerely humbling to know that my small volunteer effort has made such a difference in the life of that family and in the life of the community.”

In her new role with Our Towns, Reynolds will be charged with cultivating donor relationships, working with corporate sponsors and faith partners, planning special events and board development.

“We are fortunate to have someone with Patrice’s wealth of experience and passion for nonprofits to join our team,” said Executive Director Jeff Porter. “I’m confident that her work here at Our Towns will strengthen our organization and help us to continue to build strength, stability and self-reliance in our community, through decent, affordable shelter.”

Our Towns Habitat recognized locally, nationally

For more than 30 years, Our Towns Habitat for Humanity has provided affordable housing options in the Lake Norman and Statesville area and
was recently recognized for its commitment by Habitat for Humanity International and the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce.
For the second year in a row, Our Towns Habitat has been recognized as an Affiliate of Distinction by Habitat for Humanity International. In 2017, out of nearly 1,400 affiliates nationally, only 24 received this recognition.

The Affiliates of Distinction program honors those Habitat affiliates that meet or exceed best-practice standards and uphold their work as best practices within seven criteria: sustainable and green building; overall organizational leadership; community development; financial sustainability; alignment with Habitat for Humanity’s strategic plan; effective use of technology to better communication with the public; and support for Habitat’s global mission.

In addition, the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce recently awarded Our Towns the Duke Citizenship and Service Award for the affiliate’s profound impact in North Mecklenburg and Iredell Counties.

The Chamber recognized the organization’s longstanding commitment to proving safe and affordable housing solutions through two programs, new homeownership and critical home repairs to residents in the Lake Norman community.

“Though the majority of our work impacts those in our local communities, our overall mission as a Habitat affiliate to build stronger communities, is global,” said Jeff Porter, executive director of Our Towns Habitat for Humanity. “So, it’s a great honor to be recognized for our work by both Habitat for Humanity International and the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce.”

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.