The Greater Mount Airy Habitat for Humanity’s 20th anniversary celebration Saturday was as much about celebrating the future as it was looking at the past — Habitat has served 40 families in its 20 years.
The day’s activity’s included several examples of local businesses and organizations making donations to the group, or helping it increase its profile.
Vice President and Branch Manager of Bank of America in Mount Airy Debra Luskey presented the group with a $5,000 donation early on in the festivities. One member of the original board in 1993, Geneva Gee attended the event and also gave a donation of $20.
One example of a cooperative effort was the Mount Airy Fire Department volunteering its vehicles to give the group a larger profile in the community.
Fire Chief Zane Poindexter said the department had set up two engines, a ladder truck and a service truck, to draw more attention to the event, which was held in the new Habitat ReStore on 813 Merita Street. The department’s public service efforts included a remote control fire truck named Freddie who seemingly can talk with children and also featured the mascot Sparky the Fire Dog.
Poindexter said department members routinely held Habitat as a natural part of their duties with teams of more than six volunteers helping on a variety of tasks like moving heavy donated objects in the ReStore.
“Activities like this are something we look forward to,” said Poindexter. “Our mission statement is to protect lives and property. We are happy to do this. Everybody likes to see a fire truck.A lot don’t know what goes on here at the ReStore. We wanted to help the word out on what both groups do as well.”
Haymore Memorial Baptist Church Youth Pastor Kevin Minix is chairman of the Habitat public relations and fund raising committee and also serves on the board of directors. He has been involved with the organization for only seven months after being invited to help by former Habitat Director Lynn Wilkes.
“I love serving the community,” said Minix. “This was an easy opportunity to help and many of our youth had previously helped so it seemed to be a natural fit for us. Each year we (Habitat) continue to grow and we always increase our goal. We haven’t always met this but that is our goal.”
Interim Habitat Director Neil Cothren said the board has been great at helping in this time of transition and the group’s many projects which include the foundations being poured for two homes in Pilot Mountain and another home which was constructed off site as part of a cooperative effort with Surry County Schools and Surry Community College. He said the pace hasn’t slowed.
“We are continuing to grow and it feels like we’re picking up steam as well,” said Cothren. “Building Habitat homes helps a community because these families pay taxes and property rates improve in these neighborhoods. For a long time Habitat has been misunderstood. It is a hand up for these families.”
Cothren said he hopes to get the word about about the ReStore since it has been relocated to the present address on Merita Street.
“We are using a variety of new ways such as social media to get the word out about ReStore,” said Cothren. “I was happy to be able to use some of my retail experience from Lowe’s Home Improvement to help with the retail side of things in the ReStore such as hours of operation. We’re looking a little closer at the business side of this.”
ReStore Manager Robert Fritchey said the store is open to the public and not just Habitat families. He said the store is closed on Sunday and Wednesday and is open all other days from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. All proceeds go to support the local Habitat affiliate.
“Ninety-nine percent of what we sell in the store is donated,” commented Fritchey. “We are open to the public and customers with a variety of budgets which range from $5 to $400. Every Monday we put selected items out on our sidewalk that have been here too long and those are free. It’s great to help support Habitat’s mission and vision. It goes to help build houses.”
The two families being served by the latest two projects are the families of Johnny and Michelle Hudson and Candy and Candy Heaton and her children, Taylor and Aaron. Heaton was a Habitat volunteer in Hickory. Both are representative of participants who contribute 250 sweat equity hours on theirs and others homes. Habitat families receive zero interest 25-year mortgage loans through the ministry for the homes.
“I am definitely excited. It’s been a long time coming,” said Heaton. “I’ve been in this program for a year and a half. Part of what’s behind my excitement helping other families is it gets the start of our home closer.”
It is Michelle Hudson’s first time being involved in building a home and in Habitat for Humanity.
“It’s my first time but it will not by may last. We are definitely going to continue for Habitat,” said Hudson, who looks forward to her sons Aaron, Daniel and Josh being in a new home. “We are loving it. You learn something new every day. I was told (by Construction Manager Greg Russo) I am the one to teach a women’s class in vinyl siding. It’s a reward to see the expression on people’s faces when each new phase of their house is completed.”
The celebration ceremony was supported by businesses and individuals including Food Lion of Pilot Mountain, Lowe’s Home Improvement of Mount Airy, Haymore Memorial Baptist church, Central United Methodist Church, Belk, Pilot Knob Golf Course, Patterson Chrysler Dodge Jeep, Hilda Bullins, Sheetz and Chick-fil-A.
Reach David Broyles at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1952.