Greater Mount Airy Habitat for Humanity volunteers at the Women Build Day Saturday would be the first to tell you warm hearts will stave off chilly temperatures.
Volunteers were part of an estimated 10,000 women nationwide who are expected to volunteer at Habitat construction sites the week of May 4-12. This is the sixth year of the effort.
Lowe’s Hardware is the underwriter of Habitat’s Women Build program and has donated more than $1.75 million to 300 affiliates across the United States. This is the first such build day for the Greater Mount Airy Habitat for Humanity group. The purpose of the program is to educate and inspire women to build and advocate for simple, decent and affordable houses in their communities.
This home was constructed as part of a cooperative effort between Habitat for Humanity, Surry County Schools, North Surry High School and Surry Community College, with students from North Surry and SCC working on the construction for the home as part of their building technology classes at the school. The home was then transported to the site.
Phillip Clark and his sisters, Ramona and Noreen, needed a new home because their former house was more than 100 years old and had to be demolished after their Habitat application was accepted. The Clarks are helping work on their own home, a process referred to by Habitat for Humanity as sweat equity hours. The organization used three criteria to determine who received the home: need, the ability to pay an affordable mortgage for 25 to 30 years, and a commitment to perform sweat equity hours on their own home.
The Clarks have also helped other Habitat families constructing their homes. Phillip Clark said he had some experience with minor home repairs before his family was accepted in the program.
“I remember helping with the first house at Lowgap. I helped them paint and I also helped with clean up, sweeping and I vacuumed,” recalled Clark. “I also worked for a while on the home in Dobson but the heat that summer got to me so I helped at the (Habitat) Re-Store for a while, too.”
Clark said their former home needed “a lot of repairs” and the family did not have the funds to complete a lot of the projects.
“It got to the point we couldn’t keep it up,” said Clark. He said his sister, Noreen was helped on their Habitat application by the Easter Seals group and the whole process began in 2011. The virtual arrival of a home well on its way to being completed overnight had an effect on the family who had seen the stick-built home process as a lengthy proposition.
“It didn’t sink in till we saw it,” added Clark. “I didn’t try to get my hopes up but it’s finally come round. At first I was pessimistic. I know it takes a while.”
Volunteers at the build day were from the Mount Airy Junior Woman’s Club, Cornerstone Baptist Church and Lowe’s Hardware of Mount Airy.
“We are a community service organization. Every year the president chooses a project to work directly with and I chose Habitat,” explained Woman’s Club President Christie Speer. “I have volunteered for Habitat for more than six years and It’s really close to my heart. I like how it is a hand up not a hand out.”
Speer said she was inspired to help with the build by her grandfather, Harry Watson, who was a carpenter. She said members were doing shifts Saturday to help and a total of 20 members were involved.
“One of ours showed up with her own tool bag and I thought it was her purse,” laughed Speer. “They have all been so excited to build a house. I also teach at Millennium Charter School and our Habitat Club student there also helped to inspire me.”
Executive Director Lynn Wilkes said she and several other Habitat members benefited from classes held at the local Lowe’s to teach basic construction skills. She said enthusiasm was helping to compensate for a lack of experience in some volunteers.
“Everybody seems to be catching on and learning and the weather has been cool so that’s helped us,” said Wilkes. “Lowe’s has been so good to partner with us. Everybody has just jumped in and we’re moving right along.”
Mount Airy Lowe’s Store Manager Neil Cothren also serves on the Habitat Board of Directors. He said the firm has been involved with the build since it began at North Surry High School.
“I wanted to give something back to the community as a part of the Habitat build and (to) come out here to see what it’s all about. I’ve been fortunate to be a part of this process along the way. I saw the kids’ presentations and saw the pride in what they were building. To see the look on their faces…that look of purpose. I really enjoyed seeing that. It’s so much a community project. I appreciate the support given us and we’re glad to give back.”
Lunch for the event was provided by Kevin Powell Motorsports. The caterer for this was JoAnn Boyle, who caters Classics Sports Grill in Advance. She said she has worked with Powell’s company to benefit a variety of charities.
“When I was told about this I was more than happy to come here,” said Boyle. “It’s not an easy job because I came all the way from Davidson (County) but it’s the Lord’s work and I was happy to do it.” Wilkes said another contributor to the meal was Mezzy’s Pizzeria in Pilot Mountain.
Reach David Broyles at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1952.