Athens Habitat Celebrates a Year of Building Community
Last week, a diverse crowd of Athenians gathered in the newly restored Georgian Hall in Downtown Athens, GA, to celebrate the power of small gifts to do great works.
Attendees included Athens Mayor Nancy Denson, Athens Area Habitat Executive Director Spencer Frye, local business leaders, Habitat homeowners and staff, and members of the Committee of 1000. “The idea behind the Committee of 1000,” says director Frye, “is that if 1000 people give just $70 each, that’s enough to build a brand new 3 bedroom home.”
Over the past year, committee donations have helped to fund Habitat’s work, including the completion of 2 new homes. But in addition to their signature home building program for low-income buyers, AAHFH runs three lesser known programs to help provide decent, affordable housing in Clarke, Oconee, and Oglethorpe counties.
The ReNew Athens program rehabilitates neglected multi-family units to reduce blight and offer affordable rental opportunities to residents not yet ready to purchase a house. Currently, Habitat is renovating properties on Magnolia Terrace, recently purchased from the estate of developer and philanthropist Sol Abrams.
The EHARP program provides handicap ramps for disabled homeowners in need, and the Brush with Kindness program offers needed repairs for qualifying low-income residents.
Receiving lifetime achievement awards at the reception for their service to Habitat and the Athens community were J.P. Watkins and Lee Green.
Watkins has worked with the Habitat ReStores for more than 15 years and is known by name to most of the stores’ regular customers. Director Frye praised Watkins for his untiring work ethic, often setting the pace for staff members many years his junior.
Lee Green came to AAHFH through the Athens Community Council on Aging and ran the ReStore furniture repair shop until his retirement in 2014. While there, he boosted revenue for housing programs by increasing the sale value of donated merchandise and even constructing new furniture from scraps, such as his signature hall trees which can be found in homes across the community.
This year’s celebration was held in the Georgian Hall ballroom in downtown Athens, which has recently been restored to its original look and style from the turn of the 20th century. Cosponsoring the event with Georgian Hall was South Kitchen + Bar, which provided sumptuous hors d’oeuvres and sweets that received rave reviews from guests. Beverages were provided through the generosity of Northeast Sales Distributing. Musical entertainment was provided by local musician Dan Nettles of Kenosha Kid.
“We couldn’t have asked for better sponsors,” said Frye. “The setting, the food and drinks, the service, just perfect. It all made for a wonderful event and a memorable night for everyone.”
For more information on the Committee of 1000, or to become a member for the upcoming year, visit the Athens Area Habitat programs page at AthensHabitat.com/Programs.