Last night, I helped give a presentation about Habitat for Humanity to Chatham County’s Briar Chapel neighborhood. I was struck by a very straightforward question that came from one of the attendees toward the end of the presentation. He asked, “Page, what can we do to make this evening a success for you?”
At the time, we talked a bit more about volunteer activities: working at the build site, or helping in the ReStore or the office. But afterwards, I was talking about that question with the other presenters and realized that we had been unprepared for it. What were we really asking for? What can a whole neighborhood do to make an impact with Chatham Habitat?
Individual volunteers are the lifeblood of Habitat and we have many, many wonderful volunteers. People who care deeply and give generously of their time. A neighborhood could band together to give on a much greater level. Here are just some ideas:
The very people who make our county our home can often not afford to live here.
1. Neighborhood Build Day
Local businesses in Pittsboro and Siler City, and even corporations in RTP, have scheduled group build days. Schools and churches do builds, too. So, a neighborhood build day a couple of times a year would be tremendously impactful. (Bearing in mind that to work on the build site, a volunteer has to be over sixteen years. Safety first!)
2. Sponsor a Home
A few Chatham County neighborhoods have thrown fundraisers that earned enough money to sponsor a home. A whole home. So, that’d be awesome. And what a rewarding thing to be able to point out the home that your neighborhood paid for. While we don’t expect that kind of donation very often, even half a home would be impressive. So, a fundraiser for a Habitat home? Maybe put together a “Walk for Habitat” if a gala is not your style. That not only raises funds but also raises awareness in the community.
3. Neighborhood ReStore Day
You don’t have to be over sixteen to volunteer at the ReStores. That’s a great place for young people to volunteer. We have had middle school groups spend a day at the ReStore several times over the years. That’d be a great place for older kids (along with some parents) while other parents are at the build site. The neighborhood Habitat Day. What a great gift to give your children: the joy of giving back and work ethics at the same time!
4. Yard Sale Donation Day
Most Habitat affiliates are funded in three ways:
1) donations and grants from the community
2) mortgage payments from the homeowners, and
3) the proceeds from our ReStores.
The ReStores (Pittsboro has two) resell items that are donated. The stores accept building supplies, home goods, furniture, appliances, books, artwork, (working) electronics and much more. (No clothes, though, those can go to Second Bloom or the PTA Thrift Shop.) And the staff will come to pick your items up. What if your neighborhood organized a household donation day? Everyone clean out their garages and attics and give the stuff you no longer want or need to Habitat for the ReStores. And, then, grab a couple of friends and go shopping at the ReStore! You’ll be amazed at what you’ll find.
5. Group Build Outings
The regular work crews at the build sites have gotten to be good friends. So, corral a few of your good friends and commit to one day a week. Or one day a month. Every pair of hands helps and the volunteers there are so friendly and helpful.
Can’t drive a nail straight? There are regular volunteers to help you develop some building skills. There is a neighborhood in Chatham County that has specialized work crews they send out when needed. There’s the Paint Crew and the Landscaping Crew who come out to do those specific jobs. If you enjoy one area of home building, put together your own crew. You won’t be needed every week, but you’ll still make a huge contribution to every house.
6. Amazon Smile
Does anyone else out there shop at Amazon? Do you know about the Amazon Smile program? Amazon Smile donates a portion of your purchases to the non-profit of your choosing. Choose Chatham Habitat! While the percentage of the donation is small, imagine how much bigger it will be if a whole neighborhood, or even part of a neighborhood, sign up to have Chatham Habitat receive the Amazon Smile contribution. And, it’s easy. If you go to the Chatham Habitat website, chathamhabitat.org, right there on the home page, on the bottom right is the link to sign up.
You can also sign up to volunteer on the website. Just click on the Volunteer tab at the top and choose which area you want to volunteer in. Click the volunteer button at the bottom of the page and let us know you’re coming. Our Volunteer Program Manager, Rachel, will give you a call to answer any questions you may have.
Long story short…..Chatham County is going through tremendous growth right now. Property values are rising by the minute. The very people who make our county our home can often not afford to live here. And nobody else is solely providing affordable housing in Chatham County. It’s a very real need and each and every one of us, and all of us together, can help to bring those neighbors back home.
Chatham Habitat for Humanity Volunteer