Upbuilding: Summer 2019

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

Greetings, Habitat nation! Welcome to the first quarterly edition of our new online newsletter, where you can find out what we’re building, who we’re helping, and how our partners are helping us to build our community. If you’re not already receiving notice of our newsletters by email, just click here to sign up for notifications in your inbox when each new edition is published. (You’re free to unsubscribe at any time.)

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Building the Community

AAHFH volunteers working on foundation

One of the latest trends in housing right now is tiny homes — less expensive, more environmentally sustainable,  more energy efficient. Unfortunately, true tiny homes aren’t (yet) allowed in Athens.

A “tiny home” typically has less than 500 square feet of floor space, but nowhere in Athens is zoned for less than 600. With this in mind, Athens Area Habitat for Humanity, the US Green Building Council of GA, and SK Collaborative decided to partner up for a different sort of tiny home design contest, for “Kinda Tiny” homes between 600 and 800 square feet. Two teams, one from Atlanta and another from UGA, won the 2017 design contest with two very different plans — a traditional “dogtrot” home, and an ultra modern design.

Habitat is preparing to make these homes a reality with help from the Committee of 1000, the Ladies’ Charity Skeet Classic (see below), and other donors providing the funds to get these homes started. Two of the four new homeowners have already been selected and have started on their required sweat equity hours and homeowner courses from Athens Land Trust.

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The Giving Spirit

Skeet being shot at the Ladies' Charity Skeet Classic

This year, the Ladies’ Charity Skeet Classic women’s skeet shooting tournament moved from Nashville to Georgia, and chose Athens Area Habitat for Humanity as its beneficiary. The Classic was held at Covington’s South River Gun Club in April, and women from across the country came to compete in a 500 target tournament, as well as various side events, raffles, and auctions, with funds going towards AAHFH’s latest project, the Kinda Tiny Homes.

The event was a huge success, raising more than $24,000 for the homes. This will be an annual tournament here in Georgia, and it features a “learn to shoot” training session on day one for folks interested in taking up the sport for the first time. So if you didn’t make it this year, come on out in 2020! Of course, you don’t have to participate to be involved — the range is open to the public during the tournament so you can watch the action from the sidelines, join in the raffles, and just enjoy a fun day of sporting. Our thanks go out to event organizers Tami and Al Means as well as to all the participants, sponsors, and volunteers who made it happen.

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Volunteer Spotlight

Back in June, volunteers from Faith Christian Church showed up for a Saturday Build at Marlborough Downs Rd. They got right to work installing wood floors, pressure washing, cleaning cabinets and windows, and painting walls.

“It was such a great experience!” says Rosetta Kelley, a volunteer onsite. “We’ve always enjoyed coming out and being able to do different work at each project. We’ve helped do all sorts of things like build ramps and paint houses. It’s fun because the congregation learns something new every time!”

About a month later, that same group came back to Marlborough Downs Rd, but this time they were there to celebrate the house becoming a home. Deacon Marion Terrell gave a beautiful blessing of the home before the Brooks family walked inside. He had everyone gather in a circle around the family and wished them a life of abundance and joy as they started a new chapter. Ms. Kelley and other congregation members plan on cooking a meal for Ms. Brooks once she settles in.

Executive Director Spencer Frye will be speaking to their congregation next Sunday morning to thank them for their service. We are forever grateful to Faith Christian and to all the volunteers who make our work possible.

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Local Partners

Volunteers eating Tazikis from Build an Appetite Program

You need food for fuel if you’re going to get anything done, especially building a house!

Our solution: Athens Area Habitat’s “Build an Appetite” program, through which local restaurants and caterers donate regular meals for our hungry crew and volunteers on weekends and special build days. And we can assure you, it’s always the favorite part of the build day!

Pulaski Heights BBQ, Taziki’s Mediterranean Café, and Marti’s at Midday became the first members of the Build an Appetite Program back in 2017, and Em’s Kitchen has since joined the roster.

But these guys aren’t the only ones who have donated to Habitat builds. During our Collegiate Challenge in March, we had 3 weeks of hungry college students visiting and working up appetites on our build sites. So in addition to our Build an Appetite donors, Big City Bread Café, Willy’s Mexicana Grill, and Zaxby’s also stepped up to the challenge of feeding our volunteers.

We’re so thankful to Marti’s, Pulaski Heights, Taziki’s, and Em’s for keeping such an awesome program going, and can’t wait to see how it continues to grow. So don’t forget to support your local eateries who are giving back!

(And if you’d like to get involved with the AAHFH Build an Appetite program, please contact our outreach director, Hannah Mitchell, at outreach@athenshabitat.com.)

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What We’re Up To

Michael Thurmond with a group of boys at AAHFH Gala

Athens native Michael Thurmond spoke at the annual Committee of 1000 gala in January. Thurmond is the son of a Clarke County sharecropper who went on to become an attorney, a state representative from Athens, the state commissioner of labor, and CEO of DeKalb County among other achievements.

With a wealth of knowledge about Georgia’s past and present, not only could Thurmond write a book about Athens, but he did just that! During Thurmond’s senior year at Clarke Central High School, he took a class on black history which had no textbook. When Thurmond asked about a text, he was told if he wanted one he should write one. Thurmond rose to the challenge with a “pamphlet” which grew into his first book A Story Untold: Black Men and Women in Athens History, which has just been re-released in an updated edition. (Mr. Thurmond will be speaking on the book and signing copies of this new edition this Sunday at the Athens Barnes & Noble.)

Executive Director Spencer Frye at house dedication

What’s going on in  government

Housing is a hot topic right now, with a number of bills having been introduced within the Georgia legislature during the past session. One example is House Bill 346, signed by the governor, which prohibits retaliation by a landlord against a tenant by giving tenants the right to complain and address housing issues without fear of eviction.

House Bill 313, introduced to the Ways & Means Committee, attached to another bill and also signed by the governor, is ad valorem tax legislation that gives property tax relief for homes sold at 0% interest, which frees up more money for non-profit construction of affordable housing. House Bill 492, signed by the governor as well, limits a writ of possession to expire after 30 days so landlords can’t use the fear of eviction to intimidate tenants in an ongoing dispute.

Through legislation aimed at increasing housing affordability and occupant rights, our state government can level the playing field and allow for homeownership and rental opportunities to part of our population that works hard and makes good choices yet still may not have access to the income necessary to afford market-price real estate within the area where they live. These measures lead to greater to housing stability and more prosperity for everyone.

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Homeowner Tips

AAHFH volunteers sawing at build site

If your want your fridge to run more efficiently, and cheaply, you should give it a vacuum every summer. But not on the inside — vacuum the coils on the back with a brush attachment. Removing dust and lint and pet hair will improve your refrigerator’s ability to exchange heat.

Here’s a trick for easy cleaning of dusty ceiling fans. Wrap a dryer lint sheet around a long-handled paint roller, secure with rubber bands, and use it as a blade duster!

Water pipes leading to exterior spigots can develop leaks in winter that often go unnoticed until damage is done. To check for leaks, set your spigots to a light stream of water and try to stop it with your thumb. If you can block the water easily with no resistance, that means it’s getting out somewhere else!

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