Join Women Build as we start our 10th Habitat home

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The Women Build team is excited to kick off our 10th house this month! We’re honored to partner with Luz, our future homeowner, to build her house.

On Saturday, Oct. 27, Women Build volunteers will raise the walls for Luz’s home. Raising the walls of a home is an INSPIRING experience for volunteers, the homeowner and the community! Please join us in this monumental moment!

We need you and 19 other women for our kickoff. You can register to build through our volunteer registration portal

After Oct. 27, there are 10 additional Saturday Women Build opportunities through early February to help Luz complete her home. Registration is open for all days, and the schedule of tasks is available on the Women Build page. It is very important to to sign up in advance, even if you’ve volunteered many times in the past–this helps ensure we have the right amount of volunteers for the job!

Looking forward to building with you,

 

 

 

Ashley Hudler
Chairwoman, Women Build Committee

A life well-lived: Volunteer Jack Hart passes away at age 100

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Our Towns Habitat is saddened by the loss of longtime volunteer and supporter Jack Hart, but we are blessed to have him as an integral part of the Habitat mission. Jack passed away shortly after his 100th birthday, on Aug. 28, 2018, after a brief bout with pancreatic cancer. His warm, adventurous spirit was captured by the Charlotte Observer in this story of his amazing life.

The photo above shows Jack celebrating the opening of the newest Habitat ReStore in Statesville on April 13, 2018.

Mooresville attorney takes Habitat service from office to build site

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A group of volunteers huddled around a trailer full of tools and listened to a man standing in the back as he explained safety guidelines and details about the day’s construction project. At a glance, it was the normal setting of a weekend build day with Habitat for Humanity, but closer up, one could see that there was something a little bit different about the project.

As the volunteers began to disperse, they rolled up the sleeves of bright orange t-shirts, the backs of which read “Thomas, Godley and Grimes.” As they hammered their first nail, a man with a video camera circled around them, and as they took turns grabbing tools from the trailer, they were greeted by Ben Thomas, a Mooresville attorney who has been volunteering with Habitat for almost 30 years.

“Owning a home is part of the American Dream, and it provides stability to a family like nothing else does. It gives families roots, and most of all, it gives them a future.” –Ben Thomas

Fitting comfortably into the familiar setting, Thomas grabbed his own tools and joked with the site supervisor before starting work alongside the rest of the volunteers.

Thomas has been involved with Our Towns Habitat since its foundation, and his law firm is sponsoring its first Habitat home this summer.

He moved to North Carolina in 1989 to establish his practice after finishing law school at Louisiana State University. The following year, he ended up at a meeting with a group from St. Therese Catholic Church that wanted to start a local Habitat affiliate in Mooresville.

“I really don’t remember how I ended up at that meeting,” Thomas said. “I knew a little bit about Habitat, but basically no more than the average person.”

The Mooresville affiliate built its first house on McLelland Avenue, and continued building for a few years before finally merging with the Davidson affiliate to form what is now Our Towns Habitat for Humanity.

“I’ve always stayed involved and have been fortunate enough to do some of the closings for the homes,” Thomas said. “Habitat has been very good to me; I actually met my wife through this organization.”

At another Habitat meeting – this time in 1993 – Thomas walked in to a room full of regulars and noticed someone new. Her name was Angela. He asked her to dinner after the next meeting and she said yes. Twenty years later, she admitted that she had already eaten that night.

The two now have a daughter and a son, who both attend LSU.

“Since my wife and I met, Habitat has been a huge part of our lives,” Thomas said. “We worked on a house for our 20th anniversary, and we always dreamed about having the ability to sponsor a Habitat home as a family.”

With the help of his law partners and Habitat, that dream is becoming a reality this summer, as the Thomas Godley & Grimes nears completion at the end of August. Not only did Thomas find a way to fund the project, but he is also dedicated to providing enough volunteers for the Saturday builds.

One Saturday, Our Towns even had to redirect a few volunteers to surrounding build sites because so many showed up at the Thomas, Godley & Grimes home.

“We get a lot of our business from lenders and realtors,” Godley explained, “so we’re going to them with this opportunity to do a team-building, volunteer day.  Everyone that we have talked to has been all for it.”

The firm also gives out special t-shirts at the site and puts together a promotional video after every build day that each of the participating companies can use.

“It’s a situation where everyone wins, and it has kind of turned into a marketing model for us,” Thomas said, “We love volunteering here and we’re excited about the possibility of making this a model that other businesses can use to help generate more funds and volunteers for Habitat.”

Though Thomas has a long history with Our Towns, he usually contributes his time by doing pro-bono closings for the homes, so he is valuing the opportunity to be on the build site almost every Saturday this summer.

The sponsored home provides a path out of poverty housing for Elena, Luis and their four children, who Thomas has met on multiple occasions at the site.

“When you’re on the site, you see that you’re not giving anybody anything,” Thomas said. “They’re earning it and they put so much time and energy into it. Watching Elena work is absolutely amazing. She can drive a nail faster than most of us, and she never slows down.”

Habitat operates on a partnership model, with homeowners serving 400 “sweat equity” hours while they are in the homeownership program. When their home is complete, the purchase the home with an affordable mortgage. Sweat equity hours are earned by attending homeowner education classes, volunteering in the ReStores, helping building other Habitat homes and, finally, building their own home.

Having volunteered on multiple Habitat homes, Thomas understands how powerful it is to work alongside the homeowners, and he said that his most memorable experiences revolve around the families.

“When you see those kids running around and showing you their rooms, you know it’s going to change their lives,” he said. “Owning a home is part of the American Dream, and it provides stability to a family like nothing else does. It gives families roots, and most of all, it gives them a future.”

About the Author: Hannah Bain is a rising junior at N.C. State University, where she is studying public relations, Spanish and nonprofit studies. She is serving as a development and communication intern for Our Towns Habitat, focusing on capturing the stories of new and existing Habitat homeowners.

Watch the video diaries from the Thomas, Godley & Grimes build on their YouTube channel.

“I can’t put my arms down!”

As part of the Our Towns Habitat for Humanity office staff, the time I spend on the construction site is limited. But standing shoulder-to-shoulder with future homeowners, helping build their new home, is a powerful reminder of why the work I do every day—in front of my computer, on the phone or even sitting in meetings—is so vitally important.

For that reason, I make a point to join one of our volunteer build days as I’m able. Before Christmas, when a couple of my girlfriends and I were making plans to get together in the new year, I suggested we volunteer together for the Women Build day this past Saturday, then reward ourselves with lunch afterward.

It sounded like a great idea at the time—when the daily temperatures had been mostly in the 40s and 50s. When the forecast for January 6 was still a total unknown. When I could walk outside and still feel all my extremities.

Last week, with the forecast for Saturday predicting weather more suited for the North Pole than North Carolina, volunteering to build a house no longer sounded like such a great idea. But my friends and I follow through with our commitments, so there was no backing out.

Saturday morning, I put on as many layers as humanly possible and did my best impression of the younger brother in “A Christmas Story.” I only made it a minute down the road before I managed to spill my coffee (thanks in part to my inch-thick gloves). I quickly grabbed some extra napkins to mop up the mess but it was no use—the coffee had already frozen on the hard surfaces of my car. Not a good sign.

The first hour we spent building was admittedly brutal. I think I spent as much time trying to keep warm—adjusting the hand warmers in my gloves, pulling my hat further down over my ears and sipping what was left of my coffee—as I did building. But, of course, the more we moved around, the more we warmed up (and the temperature did eventually creep up from 8 to degrees to the mid-20s).

Piedmont Carolinas AACN Volunteers

Volunteers from the Piedmont Carolinas chapter of the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses were among more than a dozen volunteers who helped frame a home for Juan and Telma.

What was truly amazing was how many other volunteers had joined us on that cold, cold morning. As the spirit of teamwork and shared misery kicked in, we watched our work take shape, in the form of four completed exterior walls, standing tall at the end of the day.

One of our tasks Saturday was to attach “blueboard” to those walls. Blueboard is a material that is used on all of our Habitat homes to provide extra insulation—it helps us maintain the high energy efficiency standards we build to. In other words, the work we did yesterday, bundled up against the sub-freezing temperatures, will be critical to keeping the home’s future owners—Juan, his wife Telma and their four children—warm next winter. Juan and Telma were both out there building too, powering through the cold just like we were.

When I joined the Our Towns Habitat team nearly two years ago, one of the first homeowner stories I learned was about single dad Curtis and his four children. The family has been living in a rental home where they could not use the gas furnace because of safety concerns. They struggled to stay warm in the drafty older home by using multiple space heaters—resulting in heating bills that topped $300.

When Curtis dedicated his new home two summers ago, with temperatures in the 90s, his daughter stood under the air conditioning vent and reveled in the cool air—something they hadn’t had before. Saturday, while I endured some temporary discomfort, alongside more than a dozen other volunteers, I warmed myself with the thought that Curtis and his four kids were snug and warm in their new Habitat home, even during this extreme cold.

Next winter, Juan and Telma’s family will be too, thanks to all the Habitat volunteers and donors who make our work possible.

 

About the Author: Misty Stach has served as Marketing Manager for Our Towns Habitat for Humanity since May 2016. She manages the organization’s website, social media and print communications. Misty is a 2001 graduate of Wingate University, with a background in journalism and nonprofit communications.

 

Safety tips for cold weather housing warriors

For those of you volunteering with us this weekend in the very cold weather, Our Towns Habitat wants to offer you a huge THANK YOU!

Families who lack decent housing often struggle with the cold—their homes may be drafty and poorly insulated, or their heat may not function correctly. We often hear stories of $300+ heating bills in these cold months, sometimes forcing our partner families to seek assistance from local crisis agencies. Habitat homes are built to be energy efficient, helping end this cycle for our homeowners.

So, although the weather is frigid, our partner families are counting on our cold weather warriors to be out on the build site with them, helping them build their own affordable (and warm!) home. We so appreciate you being part of this important work, even when it means working in the cold.

Please take a few moment to review these tips for working safely in cold weather before you come out to the site.

  • Wear layers to help insulate and keep you warm, but make sure clothing is not tight or restrictive. Too tight clothing can limit circulation and impair your body’s ability to keep warm, and restrictive clothing can impair your movement and create a hazardous work situation.
  • Keep your extremities warm and cover as much skin as possible to limit exposure. Wear warm socks, gloves and a hat. Waterproof, insulated boots are ideal. A balaclava or ski mask can also help cover your face for additional protection. Hand warmers (such as HotHands) are also a great option!
  • Take warm-up breaks as needed. Hop in a warm vehicle for a few minutes, or take a few minutes to warm up near a space heater. Drinking hot liquids can also help you warm up, so consider bringing a thermos with your favorite hot beverage.
  • Be aware of the warning signs of cold weather health dangers. Symptoms of hypothermia, include uncontrollable shivering, bluish skin, fatigue, confusion, slurred speech and loss of coordination. When frostbite occurs, skin becomes hard, numb and pale or waxy-white in color. If you notice any of these symptoms in yourself or another volunteer, alert your site supervisor immediately.

Top 5 Reasons to Volunteer This Winter

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Today is the official first day of winter. When the weather is cold and dreary, sometimes all we want to do is curl up under a warm blanket with a good book and a cup of hot cocoa.

But even when the temperature outside is dropping, Our Towns Habitat for Humanity does not stop building homes. In fact, the winter weather reminds us more than ever of how important affordable housing is.

When families can’t afford their rent, they are not shielded from the possibility of eviction because it’s cold outside. When families sacrifice living in unsuitable conditions so they can afford their rent, they often find themselves cold in the winter, due to poor insulation or furnaces that don’t work.

So while the warm blanket and book are tempting, please consider bundling up and coming out to the work site for a Saturday or two (or three!) this winter. If you need a little more motivation, here are our top five reasons to volunteer in winter.

5. Swinging a hammer really gets the blood flowing and you’ll warm up fast!

4. You’ll have a great excuse for a Starbucks run after you’ve finished your shift.

3. Being outside will give you a chance to soak in a little extra Vitamin D and combat winter depression.

2. You will have a reason to get out of your pajamas and interact with other real, live humans before noon on a weekend.

1. You’ll appreciate your warm home and cozy blanket even more after you’ve helped someone else build their own warm, affordable home!

Now that we’ve talked you into crawling out from under your warm blanket, the next step is to learn more about volunteering on the build site and sign up for a day!

#BuildLove for #GivingTuesday

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This holiday season, we are excited for the opportunity to #BuildMoreLove together. So we’re thrilled to share that, thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, your gift can do even more to build affordable housing in our community.

When you make a gift to Our Towns Habitat for Humanity now through the week of #GivingTuesday (Nov. 26-Dec. 2), your thoughtful donation will be matched, up to a total of $10,000.

Your $25 becomes $50. Or your $100 becomes $200. Then, as we all come together to #BuildLove, $10,000 becomes $20,000! Please consider making a gift to #BuildLove with us, as we all work together toward our vision of a world where everyone has a decent, affordable place to live.

Prefer to mail your gift?

You may send your check made out to “Our Towns Habitat” to PO Box 1088, Davidson, NC 28031. Please write “Giving Tuesday” in the memo line, so we can properly credit your donation to our matching gift challenge.

Challenge Progress: 100%

#BuildLove Matching Gift Challenge

What is #Giving Tuesday?

Giving Tuesday#GivingTuesday is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration.

Celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving.

There are many ways you can celebrate #GivingTuesday, through gifts of both your time and treasure–by making a financial donation, donating household items to our Habitat ReStores, or joining us for a Volunteer Open House to learn more about serving with Our Towns Habitat.

Help us spread the word with an #UNSelfie

#GivingTuesday #UNSelfie

You can bring awareness to the #GivingTuesday movement and Our Towns Habitat’s affordable housing mission with your smartphone and social media feed! Download this #UNSelfie template, writing an inspiring message about why you give back, then snap your #UNSelfie and share! Make sure to tag Our Towns Habitat in your post! You can find us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Interested in Volunteering? Join Us for an Open House

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As part of our celebration of #GivingTuesday, a global movement of giving and service, Our Towns Habitat for Humanity is hosting a series of volunteer open house events Tuesday, Nov. 28.

These events offer anyone who is curious about volunteering with Habitat–whether on the build site or in our ReStores–a chance to learn about what to expect when you volunteer, meet Habitat staff and fellow volunteers, see some “behind-the-scenes” volunteer action, and ask any and all questions you might have.

Open house events will take place at our Burke Crossings neighborhood in Mooresville for construction volunteers, and at our Cornelius and Mooresville ReStores. While our Statesville ReStore is not yet open, we will offer an information meeting at First Presbyterian Church for those interested in volunteering there. Use the links below for more information.

Open House Event Information

Let the work begin!

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Renovations to the retail space that will house the new Habitat ReStore in Statesville are finally underway!

The new ReStore will be located at 1893 E. Broad Street, next to Planet Fitness in the Bi-Lo shopping plaza. Our Towns Habitat for Humanity staff are already hard at work painting the walls, with more significant renovations to begin next week. Next steps will include installing new floors and overhead lights, installing restroom facilities, constructing new interior walls, assembling merchandise fixtures, and setting up cashier stations and merchandise displays.

Volunteers will be needed throughout the renovation process and once the store opens. We anticipate volunteer opportunities for both individuals and groups. To learn more about volunteering call 704-996-4477.

Donations of new or gently used household items–appliances, furniture, home decor, exercise equipment and more–are already being accepted for the store. Visit our ReStore Donation page to learn what donations we can accept and schedule a pick-up, or visit one of our “Stuff the Truck” events every Sunday in October.