Upbuilding: Fall 2019
Greetings, Habitat nation! It’s been an exciting summer for us here at Athens Hab, with an innovative new project getting off the ground (see the Local Partners section) and new homes going up (see The Giving Spirit below). And it’s all made possible by our partners and supporters, so thanks, y’all!
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Building the Community
Everybody knows that Habitat builds houses. But not everybody knows that we also revive abandoned neighborhoods, install handicap ramps for disabled home owners, and provide emergency repairs for low-income residents. This last program, called Brush With Kindness, received a welcome boost earlier this year from Accent Roofing, an area roofer who donates a free roof to a homeowner in need for every 100 they install.
We had a project scheduled this summer to repair a local roof, when Accent stepped in and offered to replace it instead! It turned out to be a challenging job because some of the decking and rafters below the roof had been seriously damaged, but their work made the house look practically brand new again. But even better, because Accent provided the roof replacement, Athens Habitat was able to redirect our Brush With Kindness funds to repairing damage to the interior of the home.
This past month we completed repairs to water-damaged interior floors in the home. And we had enough funding left to replace the aging water heater as well. It just goes to show how much more we can accomplish when we work together!
The Giving Spirit
Our Kinda Tiny Homes project is now in full swing, as the first two foundations have been poured and the walls are going up! These high-efficiency homes are based on designs by UGA graduate students Jacqueline Menke and Sonia Linton, co-winners of last year’s design contest sponsored by SK Collaborative, US Green Building Council of Georgia, and Athens Habitat.
Since the start of the project, these innovative new homes have attracted a lot of attention, and were the spark for the Housing Code Hack in August which brought local leaders together to determine how our building and zoning codes can be updated to make housing in our area more affordable for all. Our last newsletter featured the Ladies’ Charity Skeet Classic, which this past spring raised more than $20,000 for the homes.
Since then, we’ve had new partners join in to provide expertise, materials, and non-profit discounts to help make these homes a reality. Our thanks go out to TimberBilt for their design expertise, Huber Engineered Woods for their ZIP System wall sheathing, Mitsubishi Electric for contributions to the HVAC system, Imery Group for guiding and certifying the homes’ energy efficiency, and Lowe’s for essential logistical support. It just goes to show, when you have a good idea, everybody wants to be a part of it! Great things can happen when we all pitch in.
Paul Anderson has volunteered more than 1000 hours with Athens Area Habitat. And he’s only been volunteering for about a year!
It started in 2018 when he volunteered “sweat equity” on the future home of his stepdaughter, Roslyn Brooks. All Habitat homeowner partners participate in the building of their home, or volunteer on other homes, but friends and family can donate their hours to the homeowner as Paul so generously chose to do. And he plans to continue donating his volunteer time to new families working toward their first home.
“I have always liked helping people,” says Anderson, who has a background in construction and moved to Athens from Chicago in 2017 after his retirement. “I know how to talk to people and have fun with them,” he explains, so volunteering just seems to come naturally. Anderson now volunteers regularly at the Habitat ReStore at 1425 Atlanta Highway in Athens. “I’m kind of the handyman of the store,” he says.
“Paul is a real blessing,” says ReStore manager Derrell Hall. “I keep telling him he ought get paid,” Hall adds with a smile, “and he says no, as long as he’s a volunteer I can’t fire him.” It’s a rare person who gives as much to others as Mr. Anderson does, but by donating his volunteer hours to aspiring new homeowners, Paul truly goes above and beyond, serving as a shining example of the spirit of volunteerism.
Before meeting April Farlow of Lydia’s Place, a local non-profit serving young folks at risk of homelessness, we had little idea of the challenges facing kids who “age out” of the foster care system or come from a background of homelessness. Here are some sobering statistics of life as a former foster kid:
• 1 in 5 becomes instantly homeless at age 18.
• 1 in 4 won’t be able to graduate high school.
• Only half will have a steady job by age 24.
• Fewer than 4% will earn a college degree.
We’ve teamed up with Lydia’s Place to create Lydia’s Homeplace, an off-campus housing unit that will provide pre-paid housing for 8 students at half the cost of a single dorm room! Lydia’s Place and private donors have already raised $50,000 toward building renovation and advance rent. And this year, our Committee of 1000 fund drive seeks to raise an additional $30,000 to complete the project.
At-risk students who manage to enroll in college despite the odds against them are some of the hardest working, most optimistic people you’ll ever meet. But without a family or permanent home, most have nowhere to go during summer and breaks, and a single parking ticket or infirmary bill can find them locked out of dorms and registration. We’re hoping our annual fund drive will put us over the top so we can help these young folks succeed!
What We’re Up To
Our National Day of Service & Remembrance is officially September 11th. But when the 11th falls on a weekday, as it did this year, a lot of folks can’t find the time to serve. So Athens Area Habitat — together with the Friends of the St. James Baptist Church Cemetery and Thrivent Financial — co-sponsored a special weekend event on Saturday the 14th.
The St. James Baptist Church Cemetery is one of the few historical sites remaining of the old Oconee Heights, an agricultural community in the northwest area of what is now Athens-Clarke County. Volunteers from all around Athens came out to help clear brush and undergrowth to prepare the cemetery for an anticipated mapping and restoration project in 2020.
Our thanks go out to Thrivent Financial for providing funding for the event, to the church membership for approving the event and pitching in, to the Friends of the St. James Baptist Church Cemetery for help with scheduling and promotion, and to everyone who showed up on a “game day” morning to serve and remember.
Patch the cracks in your driveway and walkways. I know what you’re thinking… “Isn’t that a summer job?” Nope. Winter is when water freezes and expands inside fissures in concrete, creating even more cracking. The best time to patch is in the fall, before the first freeze. You can patch in summer, but you’ll need to check for new breaks in the autumn anyway, so save some time and do the job then.
Encourage your grass roots. Your yard may look dormant in the fall, but autumn is the season when a lot of root growth is going on underground. To get your lawn’s roots prepped for spring, try a slow-release fertilizer with phosphorous before a rain. Or, instead of raking leaves, mow them and leave them on your yard to decompose naturally.
Use paper and fire to save money. Weatherstripping doesn’t last forever. To find where replacement is needed before winter, close windows and doors on a slip of paper — if it’s easy to slide the paper in and out, you’re losing heat. To find gaps in other areas of the home, try a candle. When it comes near an air gap, the flame will flicker as air is drawn into or out of the house.