Breakfast with Santa Event Cancelled

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Birkdale Village and Our Towns Habitat for Humanity regret to announce that this year’s Breakfast with Santa, held annually at Red Rocks Café, has been cancelled. Several months ago, Red Rocks was damaged by a fire in their kitchen. While they have been working diligently to reopen, it will not happen in time to hold the breakfast.

Other options were considered for this year’s event but the event size and logistics, along with the short time frame, did not allow for alternate plans. In lieu of the funds raised at the event, Birkdale Village is donating $3,000 to Our Towns Habitat for Humanity for its affordable housing programs.

Birkdale Village also encourages those who were thinking of attending this year’s event, or who just want to help this worthy organization, to donate as well. With public support, we are hopeful to exceed the amount raised at last year’s event, through direct donations to Our Towns Habitat.

Donations can be made by online or by sending a check to Our Towns Habitat, PO Box 1088, Davidson, NC 28031. Please write “Santa” on the memo line or in the comments field for online gifts.

There are still plenty of opportunities to visit Santa during the Holiday Season at Birkdale Village. For a complete schedule, visit www.facebook.com/birkdalevillage.

New Habitat ReStore coming to Statesville

STATESVILLE, NC–Our Towns Habitat for Humanity plans to open a third Habitat ReStore in Statesville by the end of the year. Read more

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.”

July Marks Three Home Dedications

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In the month of July, Our Towns Habitat was blessed to hand over the keys to three families who partnered with us to build their new, affordable homes.

At the beginning of the month, the new home of Billy and Patsy was dedicated. Not only is this new home more affordable for the couple, with its absence of stairs, it is much more accommodating for Patsy, who has had two knee surgeries and heart failure. Because of Patsy’s physical limitations, Billy has put in most of the “sweat equity” hours and has learned a lot. After working on his house, Billy feels confident that he can maintain their new home. Our Towns Habitat has made financial stability possible for the couple, who will no longer have to live paycheck to paycheck. “God has blessed us with this house,” Patsy said.

The couple’s house was sponsored by the Wildcat Davidson College Habitat for Humanity campus chapter as well as Davidson College Presbyterian Church.

About a week later, Carmen and her daughter, Daniella received their own set of keys. After financial struggles in Carmen’s home state of New York put the mother and daughter in a homeless shelter for six months, Carmen searched for a way out, and found one in North Carolina, where she moved to be with family. Still needing affordable housing, Carmen learned about Habitat. She applied—and was eventually accepted— to be a Habitat homeowner. After this long journey, not only does Carmen now have a safe and affordable place for her and her daughter to live and a yard for Daniella to play in, but she has restored faith in God. “In New York, I was to a point where I questioned God, and my faith was so low,” Carmen said. “Now being here and realizing God has made my life better, I put my life in His hands.”

Carmen’s house was sponsored by the Women Build team and Leon Levine Foundation.

We rounded out the month with a third dedication for Barbara. At her former home, Barbara worried about the safety of her 8-year-old son, Armani. After moving into a house closer to Armani’s grandmother, the family was uprooted when the landlord decided she wanted to move back into the house where Barbara and her family were living. They moved in with family, having to put many of their belongings in storage. In her new house, Barbara will have an affordable mortgage and a safe place for her son and 16-year-old niece Hydeia. Barbara gave much of her time putting in her sweat equity hours while balancing a full-time job, and was overwhelmingly thankful for those who volunteered their time. “I want to thank all the volunteers who came out to help me build my house—they selflessly gave up their weekends and their time.”

Barbara’s house was sponsored by First Presbyterian Church of Statesville, Western Ave Baptist Church, Trinity Episcopal Church, Broad Street United Methodist Church, Wells Fargo, Kewaunee Scientific Corp., and Toter/Wastequip.

Our Towns Names New Director of Operations

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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.

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

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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.

Mooresville Residents Eligible for Critical Repair Loans

The Town of Mooresville has awarded $150,000 over three years to Our Towns Habitat for Humanity to perform critical housing repairs for eligible Mooresville residents.

“It’s extremely important that the Town of Mooresville maintain our existing affordable housing stock,” said Mooresville Senior Planner Tim Brown. “This is a tool we can use as a community to accomplish that.”
Our Towns Habitat is currently soliciting applications for Mooresville residents in need of critical health or safety repairs. To qualify, residents must live in and own the home for which they are seeking repairs, must meet minimum and maximum income requirements, and must be willing and able to repay an interest-free loan on repair costs. Applicants must not be in danger of foreclosure and meet certain credit requirements.

Repayment for repairs can extend for up to seven years, with average payments of $60 a month. Monthly payments may be more or less than the average depending on repairs performed. The interest-free repayment requirement allows the program to serve more families, Brown explained.

“The way this program is structured as a revolving, no-interest loan makes it sustainable,” Brown said.

Examples of repairs that may be covered under the program include structural and roof repairs, mold removal, addressing plumbing or electrical issues, heating and cooling system repairs and accessibility modifications, such as installation of ramps, handrails/grab bars and other bathroom modifications.

A recent study by the National Low Income Housing Coalition found that for every 10 very low income families in North Carolina, only three affordable housing units exists. Our Towns Habitat’s critical repairs program helps keep people in homes they already own, while the organization’s new homeowner program adds to the affordable housing stock. Together, both programs help bridge the gap between the need for affordable housing and available units.

For more information, please visit ourtownshabitat.org. Residents may also call Vicki Smith at (704) 896-8957, ext. 125. Spanish-speaking staff is available at the Our Towns Habitat office, located at 20310 N. Main Street in Cornelius, open Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Our Towns Habitat for Humanity is an equal housing opportunity provider, and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability or family status.

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.

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.”