The Macon County affiliate of Habitat for Humanity (HFH) International is now Habitat for Humanity Macon/Jackson.
At the request of HFH International, the Macon County affiliate has assumed responsibility for restoring operations in Jackson County.
“We’re anxious to restore Habitat services and getting involved with the community in Jackson County,” said Dave Jones, president of the board of directors. “We have been in discussions with the county board of commissioners and chamber of commerce for several months and plan on adding several Jackson County residents to the board of directors to ensure that the interests and needs of that area are represented and addressed.”
Jennifer Cooper of Western Carolina University was recently elected to the board and other candidates are being considered.
In restoring Habitat operations in Jackson County, the merged organization has taken responsibility for the seven Habitat houses that were built there.
“We’re using the same business model that was developed by International in that Habitat Macon/Jackson holds the mortgage for the homes and the mortgage payments from current homeowners feed into a revolving fund that allows us to build more homes,” said Rick Westerman, executive director of the new organization.
In additional to new home construction, HFH Macon/Jackson has recognized and responded to an additional need in the community by conducting housing rehabilitation work for handicapped homeowners. This work has mostly focused on building wheel chair ramps and making modifications to improve access. This work is funded by grants and donations, but has benefited greatly through a team relationship with Macon County. “We feel that we can provide a significant and immediate benefit through the rehabilitation work at a modest cost using our group of skilled volunteers,” said Pete Drevas, outreach director.
“Our first priority is to get integrated with, and understand the needs of, Jackson County,” said Westerman. “A key component of our effort is the re-opening of the Habitat Re-Sale store in Jackson County and we hope to have that accomplished this summer.”
HFH is already accepting donations from the area and doing pick-ups on Thursdays and Fridays. Donations are currently sold through the Re-Sale store in Franklin until the new Jackson County facility opens. Pick-up of donations of household items and construction materials can be scheduled by calling (828)524-5273.
Habitat has enlisted the resources of Western Carolina University through the Center for Service Learning and the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. According to Dr. Lane Perry, director of the Center for Service Learning, “From market viability studies to business plan development and from swinging hammers to applying the final layer of paint, the opportunity to get students involved with Habitat is rich with developmental experiences and high levels of engagement.”
Dr. Bill Richmond sees his students’ involvement with Habitat as being, “a great opportunity to restart a business and to help develop an organization that will positively impact the community. There is no better way to learn entrepreneurship than by doing it.”
A student team led by Dr. Richmond completed a business plan for the Jackson County Re-Sale store and delivered it to HFH in May. The team also submitted the application for a Campus Chapter of HFH which was also approved in May. Westerman and Drevas have had preliminary discussions with faculty of the construction management department, which is considered an extremely valuable resource in this new relationship.
To volunteer your time and talents for HFH Macon/Jackson activities, call Pete Drevas, Outreach Director at (828)369- 3716. Tax deductible cash donations may be sent to Habitat for Humanity, Macon/Jackson, PO Box 1585, Franklin, NC 28744 or through the website at www.maconcountyhabitat.org.