Upbuilding: Spring 2024

Building the Community | The Giving Spirit | Volunteer Spotlight | Local Partners | What We’re Up To | Homeowner Tips

Hey, y’all! It’s been a busy year, and we expect it to stay that way for the foreseeable future. But hey, that’s why we’re here! Let’s take a look at what your support is making possible right here in Athens and its environs ….

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Building the Community

Volunteer installs a headboard over a doorway

We’re not yet halfway through 2024 and we’ve celebrated two “mortgage rips” already, which means two more homeowner partners in Athens have paid off their homes in full! Of all the milestones we share with our partner families, these are our favorites hands-down!

In other news, we’ve dedicated our largest home project thus far, the six-bedroom and three-bath “Home for More,” and the family is all settled in. Meanwhile, on the other end of the spectrum, our Kinda Tiny Homes have passed their LEED certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) at the silver level, outperforming our intended goal.

But of course the big news is that our Micah’s Creek / Lydia’s Second Home neighborhood is moving through the planning and permitting process with great support from the community and all levels of government and we’re looking forward to breaking ground later this year. While initial stages of development and construction have been funded by Athens Area Habitat together with federal, state, and municipal grants, we are currently seeking sponsors and co-sponsors for homes. A quarter of a million dollars has already been raised toward our $5.6 million goal.

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The Giving Spirit

Representatives from Heidelberg and Athens Habitat hold up a ceremonial check in front of a Habitat home

We are profoundly grateful to all the contributors to our recent annual fund drive. Our goal this past winter was to raise $65,000 toward a new home. Instead, our supporters locally and in the Athens/UGA diaspora donated twice that amount — $131,109 to be exact — which is (almost) enough for an entire house!

Our two annual fundraising events, Landmark Properties‘ “Building Hope Through Homes” golf tournament and the Ladies’ Charity Skeet Classic, together raised more than $100,000 for cost-manageable housing in Athens. The national women’s skeet tournament funded a roof for an Athens home this year, and the Landmark donation combined with a gift from the Lawrence Family Fund will build a home in Micah’s Creek.

Publix Super Markets Charities and State Farm Community Grants awarded a combined $40,000 for a home project near downtown, covering HVAC, kitchen cabinets, countertops, and more. The Jackson EMC Foundation contributed $15,000 toward a high energy-efficiency home on the west side, and Heidelberg Materials pitched in $10,000 toward completion of the “Home for More” project.

We’re pleased to report that the truck purchased with Holy Cross Lutheran‘s Lenten donation last year has been serving us (and the community) well, and is being handed over to the care of a new driver since our long-time driver Michael Buice is moving out of state.

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Volunteer Spotlight

Volunteer on ladder painting exterior of house

Its been a busy spring as the weather warms up and we’ve had plenty of help from volunteers across the community. While we don’t have room to mention everyone, we’d like to spotlight Carrier, who came out as part of a nationwide “Home Is the Key” volunteer effort in cooperation with Habitat for Humanity North America, which included a $5,000 grant toward completion of the project.

We’ve also enjoyed the help of the UGA Habitat chapter and Holy Cross Lutheran Church in home modification projects for local homeowners who have become disabled, to allow them to continue living in their own homes. And Rotary Club of Athens and UGA Rotaract have shown up for several projects this spring including interior, exterior, and landscape work.

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Local Partners

Program volunteer attaches a truss with woodscrews

Athens Area Habitat’s most recent partnership is with the Clarke County Sheriff’s Office, which co-founded the Future Foundations program to help inmates get training in the construction trades prior to release. A new trustee program for women was created to facilitate the project, and the first class of trainees began work on an accessory structure (pictured) earlier this year.

While the program is still in the developmental stage, it’s hoped that participants might help build transitional housing for trustees in the coming years. Education and vocational training are among the most effective means of reducing recidivism, while also improving morale and deportment within correctional facilities. So far, enthusiasm has been high for the collaborative project, both among program participants and jail staff and administration, and our goal is to establish a permanent program in Clarke County.

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What We’re Up To

Billboard advertising a Habitat 5k fundraiser

You might be seeing a bit more of us around town, thanks to Lamar of Athens who have generously offered to provide unbooked billboard space to help us get out the word about our mission to provide strength, stability, and self-reliance through shelter. That means more exposure for our projects while keeping donor dollars dedicated to the work!

At the end of the day, Habitat is all about cooperation and partnership. Building homes isn’t easy, or cheap, and these days there’s more need than ever. But with our community behind us, we can achieve great things!

We are profoundly grateful to all our partners who volunteer on our sites, provide food for our crews, offer non-profit discounts so we can do more with every dollar, and help us out in so many other way, both seen and unseen. Thank you!

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Homeowner Tips

House in springtime

That’s no ant: When the weather starts warming up, it’s useful to know a flying ant from a termite. They look a lot alike, but the termite can be distinguished by its straight antennae, lack of waist, and very long wings about twice the length of the body. (Ants have bent antennae, a pinched waste, and shorter wings.) If you see termites swarming, you need to take action! To prevent attracting termites to begin with, keep scrap wood and firewood off the ground and away from your foundation, don’t mulch all the way up to the house (try a gravel apron), and make sure you have a vapor barrier in your basement and/or crawl space.

After the fire:  If you have a fireplace, spring is the perfect time to have it cleaned. You’ll beat the autumn rush, which means a cleaning is easier to schedule, and you’ll get all the winter accumulation out before the baking summer heat hits, bringing on its “reverse drafts” which can push that soot (and smell) into your home. Also, keep an eye out for masonry chips and feathers in your fireplace, which could mean a bird is either trapped or nesting somewhere in the chimney. Large masonry chips could also signal structural problems.

Add compacted soil: Before the summer rains hit, it’s a good idea to check for low areas in your yard, especially around your foundation, and fill them with compacted soil. Warm puddles are a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes and other pests, and standing water around your home’s foundation is just asking for trouble. Leaving 4″-6″ of exposed foundation, the surrounding soil should be even, compact, and sloped away wherever possible.

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Augment your support for Habitat!

You can add to your financial support for your local Habitat, at no additional cost to yourself, by taking advantage of retailers’ non-profit support programs. While these funds can’t replace donations and grants or volunteers, they do help us keep the lights on and pay for supplies, which frees up other funding to build homes!

Can of Jittery Joe's coffeeJoe Fund Me

When you buy Jittery Joe’s coffee through our Joe Fund Me page, either as a monthly delivery or a single purchase, longtime Habitat supporter Jittery Joe’s will contribute a portion of your payment to Athens Area Habitat for Humanity. And there’s no markup — you get the same price through JoeFund.Me/AthensHabitat as you do buying direct! There’s just a little extra satisfaction to your morning mug when you know it’s helping build our community!


Cashier rings up groceriesKroger Community Rewards

When you link your Kroger customer loyalty card to Athens Area Habitat for Humanity, in addition to your loyalty points the Kroger Community Rewards program will donate a portion of your purchase to Athens Habitat. It’s so easy to do! So if you haven’t already, take a moment right now to visit Kroger Rewards and link you card!