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Inaugural Builders Bash raises $75K to build new affordable homes

It’s a wrap! The inaugural Our Towns Habitat for Humanity Builder’s Bash September 8 was a big success.  Thanks to the generosity of our sponsors, guests and donors, we raised more than $75,000 to help fund a new home in the greater Lake Norman area.  A silent auction kept folks busy bidding throughout the night, and an energetic live auction and opportunity to fund the need for affordable housing gave everyone the chance to make a difference for families in our community.

Thanks to their commitment to the principles of Habitat and their gifts of time and treasures over many years, Paul and Judy Leonard were presented with the Our Towns Habitat’s Founder’s Award.

Right now, Our Towns Habitat has more than 30 families in our homeownership program, taking classes, earning sweat equity hours, and waiting for the opportunity to buy a home with a mortgage they can afford.  Funds raised at the Builder’s Bash will help those families move one step closer to having a home of their own.

If you weren’t able to join us Saturday, please take a moment to watch this video featuring three Our Towns Habitat homeowners and their journeys to homeownership. It takes just a few minutes to make a secure online donation to help the families on our waiting list. Thanks to everyone who supported the Builder’s Bash and our efforts every day to ensure everyone has a decent place to live!

Thanks for making Builder’s Bash a smashing success!

Women Build Brings Us Together

I started volunteering with Our Towns for Humanity through a volunteer campaign while working with Lowe’s Corporate in 2002. At that time, I did not know anything about construction and very little about Habitat for Humanity, but decided to go out on a Saturday and see what it was all about. I was intrigued enough after that one day to decide to go out again in the future.

One of my first major houses I worked on was a Women Build house. At that time, I knew very little about that either, and was amazed to meet school teachers, church ministry leaders and others from all corners of corporate America, all working together to build a house. The one thing they all had in common was a passion for the Habitat mission and a desire to make a difference through building affordable housing.

I was fortunate to meet Manny, our construction manager, on that house. His passion for the Habitat mission was incredibly infectious. Manny also was a great teacher, he knew an enormous amount about building houses and, even better, he easily taught us how to do so as well.

Habitat for Humanity International’s Women Build initiative originated in Charlotte and has served to be a critical component of the Our Towns Habitat mission as well. We have a dedicated, committed group of women in our community that love Habitat and recognize the difference affordable housing makes, not only in our families but also in our community.

I’m proud to be a small part of this group and I hope we are able to continue building on this worthwhile tradition. I’m happy to share that our Women Build team has recently launched fundraising efforts to build its 10th home with Our Towns, with construction slated to begin this fall.

If you have never worked on a Women Build house before, I invite you to step out of your comfort zone and come out on the construction site with us. You will be amazed how much you’ll learn, and how empowering it is to build side by side with future homeowners, building their own home and a better future. Visit our Women Build page to learn more and fill out an interest form.

In Faith,

Denise Copeland
Interim Executive Director

You’re Helping Break the Cycle of Poverty

Because of your support, Our Towns Habitat for Humanity dedicated three new homes last month. Thanks to you, Shameca and her two children have a new home in Statesville; Gregoria and her three children have a new home in Cornelius; and Nicky and her two sons have a new home in Mooresville.

One of those homes belongs to the family of a 6-year-old girl named Persia. When I asked Persia, “Which room is yours?” Persia answered, “The BIGGEST one!”

Compared to the average bedroom built in America today, Persia’s room is a smaller than most. However, the impact Persia’s room will have on her life is tremendous.

According to a recent study, children growing up in overcrowded housing have lower math and reading scores, complete fewer years of school, are more likely to fall behind in school, and are less likely to graduate from high school than their peers.1

Persia’s future is bright. Because her mother owns an affordable home, in a safe neighborhood, Persia can make big plans, and she is more likely to experience more out of life than children who are still trapped in poverty housing.

According to a report funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation on the impact of affordable housing on upward mobility, 70 percent of people born at the bottom of the income ladder never reach the middle rung; 43 percent remain at the bottom.2

Without your support, children like Persia could feel doomed to becoming a statistic. The hopelessness of being stuck in poverty can overwhelm anyone, especially children.

Thank you for making a difference in Persia’s life and in the lives of those whose home construction you are supporting. We plan to build 15 homes this year. Each home will have a different mixture of ages, backgrounds and dreams, but there is one thing that all our homeowners share in common. All of them can have hope because of you.

Thank you,

Jeff Porter
Executive Director


Thousands Build Homes, Relationships Through Habitat Women Build

Early this May, more than 20 women stood together atop a foundation of concrete block, bricks and plywood with Our Towns Habitat for Humanity homebuyer Alexandria and raised the walls of her new home in Mooresville. They worked together with the help of 15 students from Christ the King High School. By the end of the day, strangers became friends and a permanent solution to breaking the cycle of poverty was established.

They were not alone.

On that same day, “thousands of women built communities and each other with Habitat for Humanity and Lowe’s”1 across the country in celebration of the anniversary of Women Build.

Women Build began in Charlotte, in 1991, when a group of women raised the money and built a home as a challenge to each other and as a gift to the city. In 1997, “Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter adopted an all women build as the President’s work project for that year, and the idea for Habitat’s annual Women Build was born.”2

Last week, an estimated 17,000 women built homes across America. Women Build is the most popular Habitat program for engaging new volunteers. Women invite other women to suspend their busy schedules, join them on a Saturday morning, and build until the job is done.

Women Build inspires donors to give. This year, the Levine Foundation donated $10,000 to match the gifts raised in honor of Women Build. Half was raised last Saturday morning, on the spur of the moment, as an 8-year-old girl named Maddie bounced from person to person, like a gazelle, carrying an empty paint bucket to collect donations and commitments that would be matched by the foundation.

Maddie lit, for a moment, next to Mariah, the 17-year-old president of the high school group that had come to the worksite to build. Maddie shifted her weight to one foot, and just as she started to make a new move, Mariah stopped her and said, “Wait! We raised over $300 selling pancakes all day last week so we could be out here today and I want YOU to have it!”

We have 15 homes we plan to build this year with 15 families. We are blessed to work with devoted women and men who inspire others like Maddie and Mariah to give everything they have to help others.

I am grateful for you all,

Jeff Porter
Executive Director


Affordable Housing Builds Stronger Families, Communities

Our Towns Habitat for Humanity values the work by leaders from across the political spectrum to provide high quality affordable housing in our area. The diversity of our organization is our strength.

I have recently received many questions about current political changes and the impact on our organization. For example, people have asked me, “What impact would the cuts in the proposed federal budget have our affiliate?”

The Administration’s budget blueprint identifies several proposed funding cuts that would substantially reduce the number of local households served by our organization and Habitat for Humanity affliliates throughout the country. Proposed cuts include eliminating aid to SHOP (Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program), CDBG (Community Development Block Grants), and CNCS (Corporation for National Service).

We benefit from each of these programs. The financial loss to our local affiliate budget could be $450,000 from SHOP, $250,000 from CDBG and the elimination of AmeriCorps workers next year. That is a total estimated loss of $700,000, or 21% of the money we need to help our families and our community.

We have made a lot of progress locally and globally, and it is vital to continue this work. Research shows that affordable housing affects change in all areas of life:

Children of homeowners are more likely to succeed in school and make fewer visits to the emergency room for routine health problems.1
Affordable housing can improve health outcomes by freeing up family resources for nutritious food and healthcare expenditures.2
Increased access to quality housing has economic benefits, including greater tax generation, opportunities for economic development, increased job retention and productivity, and the ability to address inequality.3

Please know that I value the service provided to our country through our elected officials. I can only imagine the burden they bear, and I know that you will join me in prayer for them as they work together to help make our country great for everyone.

I am especially grateful for our local elected officials, all of whom take an active role in supporting the work of Our Towns Habitat for Humanity. In the coming weeks and months, we look forward to working with our elected officials to advance the value and importance of these programs for Habitat’s work and in meeting affordable housing needs in the country.

As our country considers how we will address affordable housing going forward, I ask that you take the opportunity to reach out to your elected leaders and let them know why this issue is important to our community, our state and our nation.

I appreciate being your Executive Director,

Jeff Porter
Executive Director

1 “San Francisco Children Living in Redeveloped Public Housing Used Acute Services Less Than Children in Older Public Housing” Health Affairs, Vol. 33 No. 12, 2014.
2 “The Impacts of Affordable Housing on Health: A Research Summary” National Housing Conference, 2015.
3 “Impacts of Habitat for Humanity ‘Homeownership” Wilder Research, 2015.

Thank You for a Wonderful Year!

Thank you for making 2016 such a huge success. We served 78 families in 2016, compared to the 34 families served in 2015. We plan to serve even more in 2017, but we need your help.

We plan to repair 12 more homes this year than last year, –that is one additional family each month whose home will be made safe and healthy because of your giving. This week, you should find our end of year fundraising letter in your mailbox, which tells the stories of some of the families we’ve helped in the past year. Please take a moment to read more about the people you have helped through Our Towns Habitat for Humanity.

In the meantime, thank you for making our first #GivingTuesday a huge success. You gave more than $10,000 in one day to Our Towns Habitat for Humanity and contributed to a new #GivingTuesday record!

According to USA Today, #GivingTuesday broke a record this year as consumers turned their attention to helping others following the shopping frenzy of the Thanksgiving weekend.

Giving Tuesday sparked $168 million in charitable donations worldwide, topping last year’s tally by 44%. Meanwhile, volunteers pledged thousands of hours to assist their neighbors and those in need.

I praise God for you and for your devotion to giving. You are the most generous and hardest-working group of people I know. You give of yourselves daily. You work outside on construction sites when the weather is awful and you work inside ReStores where the floors are hard and the merc

handise is heavy. You keep our data updated in our computers and you make important decisions regarding our future.

Thank you for giving and for making a difference in my life and in the lives of those we serve together.

Merry Christmas,

Jeff Porter
Executive Director

Americans Make Giving a Holiday Tradition

Since the tradition of “Giving Tuesday” was introduced four years ago, Americans have embraced the concept, expanding the celebration of Thanksgiving from football games and family dinners, to a season of donating time, energy and money to help others in need.

According to the book, Thanksgiving: The Holiday at the Heart of the American Experience, “The celebration of the American Thanksgiving with Black Friday and Giving Tuesday has gone global. Retailers and Non-Profits worldwide participate in Black Friday and Giving Tuesday, which are almost as well known in Brazil and Bulgaria as they are in the United States.”

Giving Tuesday has now spread internationally, with more than 71 countries participating last year and raising a total of $116 million dollars in one day. Also, according to the Department of Labor, Thanksgiving is the most popular day of the year for giving of one’s time by most Americans.

Our Towns Habitat for Humanity is blessed to have supporters who love to give of themselves. Last year you gave enough time, money and energy to build 18 homes and save 40 additional homes through critical repairs. That is a total of 58 families served, or more than 1 family saved every week.

I am constantly in awe of what can be accomplished when we bring people together to put God’s love into action. Thank you for working together with Our Towns Habitat to make sure all of our friends and neighbors can have a decent, affordable place to call home for the holidays.

May you and yours have a wonderful Thanksgiving that is a celebration of love, gratefulness and giving back.

Jeff Porter

Executive Director

Join Us in Marking World Habitat Day

What began in 1986 when the United Nations General Assembly set aside the first Monday of October to celebrate “World Habitat Day,” has grown into a month long international emphasis on the advancement of affordable housing. The month is called “Urban October” and its theme, “31 days of promoting better urban life,” is being celebrated around the world right now.

I encourage you to take a moment and visit the Urban October website, and witness how other countries press the development of affordable housing. For 30 years, world leaders have set aside time to champion the cause to which we have dedicated ourselves in our shared mission with Our Towns Habitat for Humanity.

“On World Habitat Day, I urge all involved to work in partnership to manage one of the key challenges confronting humanity in the 21st century.”
–Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan

“The ‘Habitat Agenda’ is a vision of the common future. The world is united in the awareness that human settlements will be central to growth and sustainable development. Policies must reflect this.
–Former UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali

These world leaders echo the vision of Habitat, “a world where everyone has a decent place to live.” We can make that a vision a reality, but it will require us to become more knowledgeable about our cause, more diligent in providing our means, and more vocal in calling others to action.

You can help now. During the month of October make time to expand the mission of Our Towns Habitat for Humanity:

• Learn more about Habitat’s “Solid Ground” campaign.
• Join us for a virtual prayer event at noon on Monday (consider Habitat’s Prayer for Shelteras inspiration)
• Follow us on social media and share our World Habitat Day posts with your friends to raise awareness.
• Change your Facebook profile picture temporarily to mark the day (we’ll have an image you can use on our Facebook page Monday morning).
• Make an online gift.
• Sign up for a volunteer opportunity.

I am grateful that 30 years ago the leaders of the world saw the wisdom of setting aside time to promote the cause of affordable housing, and I am honored to be a part of that same mission with you today. In the words of Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity International, “Through shelter, we empower.”

Thank you for making a difference,

Jeff Porter
Executive Director

Volunteers Build Stronger Communities

Volunteerism heals communities and it also benefits the individuals who practice it. Americans have a heart for volunteerism. Abraham Lincoln knew that well when he addressed those standing at Gettysburg with the famous phrase:

This nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Except for “I love you,” the words, “by the people,” are probably the three most powerful words in the English language.

Benjamin Franklin started the first volunteer fire department staffed entirely “by the people” of New England. The men who fought the first fires in America would become the volunteer army that ultimately won our freedom.

Other organizations like The Red Cross, The Salvation Army and the YMCA were started shortly after the Civil War “by the people” who wanted to heal the hurts of humanity in tangible ways.

Habitat for Humanity has become the sixth largest homebuilder in America “by the people” who give of their time and money to create a world where everyone has a decent place to live.
Americans still love to volunteer. According to, “Americans volunteered nearly 8 billion hours of their time to local and national causes. Today nearly one in four Americans, an estimated 64.3 million people, have served as volunteers.”

Last year, more than 2,550 individuals volunteered over 50,000 hours at Our Towns Habitat for Humanity on construction jobs, in the ReStore and as part of our office staff. In this newsletter, you’ll find a story of one volunteer who helped the best way she knew how—by bringing homemade cookies and brownies to us on a weekly basis for our Saturday volunteers.

You can volunteer anywhere in Habitat. Check out our website at www.ourtownshabitat.orgfor volunteer opportunities or call us at 704-896-8957 and ask for Cathy Petriano at ext. 108 to volunteer on a construction project, or Rosemary Pitts at ext. 202 to volunteer in the ReStore.

Please plan to volunteer at least one time between now and the end of September. Volunteer on something outside of your comfort zone. Come to the ReStore or pick up a hammer and help us build a home.

Chris Cashwell, one of our regular construction leaders says of his volunteerism, “I always get more out of a day at Habitat than I give.” That is a lot.

I am grateful for you all,
Jeff Porter

Our Towns Habitat + Habitat Charlotte

Growing strong together & creating a more powerful force for affordable housing.