Upbuilding: Spring 2020
Greetings, Habitat nation! Well, it’s been a strange few months since our last newsletter. We hardly know where to begin. The pandemic has knocked everyone for a loop, and it has required us to make sweeping changes to how we do business. With the US now in recession, we know that the challenge of providing decent, affordable housing for all is only going to get steeper. So we’re redoubling our efforts and “thinking outside the box” to find new, innovative ways to serve.
For one, we’ve moved our ReStore inventory online, to AthensHabitat.com/shop! Now you can browse Athens’ most awesome thrift store from anywhere, and pick up your purchases at our 4125 Atlanta Highway location.
And remember, every time you shop at the ReStore, you’re helping to provide strength, stability, and self-reliance through shelter for your neighbors right here in our community.
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Building the Community
Accent Roofing has donated their second roof in Athens in partnership with Athens Area Habitat.
Accent donates one roof for every hundred they install. Last year, they called us up to see if we wanted to partner with them for projects in this area. It turned out to be a great way to help more neighbors in need, over and above those who qualify for repairs through our “Brush with Kindness” program.
By working together, we’re able to identify folks who have an urgent need for repairs but who lack the financial means to have them done, and Accent Roofing is able to complete the work. Their pro bono jobs are done exactly the same as their other jobs, with the same process and the same quality materials.
This roof replacement was done for a couple who have lived in Athens long enough to remember when North Avenue was a dirt road! Like many of the elders in our community, their fixed income simply doesn’t leave enough left over at the end of the month to save up for a job like that. So we are overjoyed that Accent could step in to help.
If you’ve ever wondered what goes into a job like that, check out this short video:
The Giving Spirit
Last year, the Ladies’ Charity Skeet Classic moved from Tennessee to Georgia, and selected Athens Area Habitat for Humanity as their beneficiary. Organizers Tami and Al Means have a long history with Habitat, and we are proud that they chose to work with us.
In addition to the funds raised directly from the tournament, the women who participate go above and beyond to raise additional money to provide “housewarming” gifts for homeowners. And we’re not talking about a few bucks for new shower curtains, either. These ladies manage to raise hundreds or even a few thousand dollars, which really comes in handy if you’re moving from a cramped apartment to a 3 bedroom home and you need more beds!
This year, the tournament took place on the last weekend before the pandemic hit. We closed our doors to the public the week after the event. Yet despite a few cancellations, the shoot went on safely, and some sixteen thousand dollars was raised for decent, affordable housing in the Athens area.
Just like last year, we were bowled over by the generosity of these women, who come from all around the country to participate and are so willing and eager to help folks they haven’t even met. We could use a lot more of that spirit in the world right about now!
You know Zaxby’s makes great food. What you might not know is that they are also dedicated to philanthropy.
This year, Zaxby’s sponsored the renovation of one of our homes on Magnolia Terrace — which we now affectionately refer to as “the chicken house” — and provided volunteers to help with the work! (This was before the pandemic, which is why you don’t see masks in the photo.) But this was more than just volunteering. Zaxby’s participated in our teambuilding program, in which groups volunteer on a build and then share their experience in teambuilding sessions in which they reflect on their experience and discuss what they’ve learned and how to apply it to the workplace.
There are many reasons to do teambuilding exercises. In Zaxby’s case, the size of the organization meant that folks in different areas often didn’t get a chance to get to know one another, or to fully understand how the work of other departments fits into the company’s overall mission and goals. Our post-work sessions were tailored toward their aim of crossing department lines and creating additional channels of communication and sharing.
It was a real pleasure to work with the Zaxby’s crew, who were always cheerful and enthusiastic despite the cold weather. And we learned as much about them as they did about construction!
We anticipated a respectable turn-out, but what we got was a blow-out! The event quickly filled to capacity, and then… well, we have decided that what happened next was the thumbs-up from Heaven. Ice Bowls are supposed to be held in winter weather, and are only called off for lightning, tornadoes, or earthquakes. But this is the South, right? No chance we were gonna actually have snow.
Surprise! Just as the event was getting started, a freak snow storm hit our town! It snowed for the entire tournament, and then stopped right when we were winding down.
So the Ice Bowl lived up to its name, and the tournament raised nearly $3,000 for affordable housing, more than double what we had anticipated. We are very much looking forward to making this an annual event, and hope to see everyone again in 2021.
What We’re Up To
This winter’s annual fund drive, benefitting the construction of Lydia’s Homeplace, was our most successful ever, exceeding our goal of $30,000.
Lydia’s Homeplace is a joint project with Lydia’s Place, a local charity working to save teens and young adults at risk of homelessness from a life on the streets (board members pictured at left). It will provide safe and reliable housing for local college students without homes of their own, with rent paid by Lydia’s Place.
Fewer than 4% of young adults who age out of the foster system — many of whom become homeless immediately upon their 18th birthday — will ever obtain a college degree. This project aims to give homeless students in our community the support they need to beat those odds, complete their education, and go on to a successful life.
We are so grateful for the generosity of our donors who made this fund drive the success it was. It was a joy to be with you at the gala, and we hope to see you again this coming January.
Although our office and stores were closed to the public due to the pandemic state of emergency, Athens Area Habitat managed to stay active behind the scenes, using our grant application skills for local health care groups. We applied for a grant from Athens-Clarke County for funds to spend on personal protective equipment, tests, and other supplies for 3 local clinics: Athens Neighborhood Health Center, Mercy Health Center, and Athens Nurses Clinic. Funds will be spent locally with women-owned or minority-owned businesses preferably, and then within the state of Georgia.
Special thanks go out to DLS Research Labs in Conyers and Dr. Tony Gayles for donating 50 COVID-19 antibody tests to each of these clinics for use during this pandemic. At left, Dr. Stalina Gowdie administers a DLS antibody test to Athens Area Habitat executive director Spencer Frye at the Athens Neighborhood Health Clinic.
Moving forward, we are looking to assist these clinics with designing a program of mobile care clinics that would allow a medical team to go out into the community and offer preventative care to those with no insurance and those without transportation.
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It’s spring in Georgia! Time to do a little preventive maintenance to keep your home safe and sound.
Move the firewood: If you have firewood close to the house to be handy during the winter, take a little time to move it away from your home so if termites are attracted to the wood they won’t start chomping on your abode! There should be at least a two foot gap between firewood and any structures, and the wood should be raised at least 18″ off the ground.
Get rid of standing water: Spring is the start of mosquito season, and mosquitoes love stagnant water. It’s where they lay their eggs. So it’s a good idea to give your yard a walk-through and look for places where water pools up. Among the most common offenders are old tires, unused planters, and unraked leaves. That’s right, piles of leaves provide thousands of tiny pools of water that are big enough for mosquitoes to lay eggs in, so remove them or mulch them up.
Have your AC maintained: It’s a good idea to have your AC checked every spring before the strain of a hot Georgia summer puts it through its paces, and before the service companies get stacked up with calls. If your system is having trouble with pressure, or a capacitor is about to go, it’s best to fix it now rather than wait until August.