Recently, Nande Rhinehardt and her son Brixton surveyed the empty lot where their future Habitat Home is set to begin construction. Even though the only thing visible that crisp fall day to a casual passerby was tall golden grass, Nande and Brixton pointed to where each room will be – and then walked through their new front gate.

“It will mean the world to me when Brixton and I are able to celebrate Christmas in our new home. It will represent the beginning of new traditions on a new foundation that we’ve built together.”

– Nande Rhinehardt, Habitat Catawba Homeowner
The words, “Home for the holidays” for many of us, have traditionally signaled a magical time of year when we look forward to gathering together with friends and family to celebrate the season in the warmth and comfort of our homes.

This year, this old favorite phrase takes on many new meanings in a holiday season that looks so different for so many of us. As we move into the end of the year festivities, the effects of COVID-19 move with us. “Home for the Holidays” still reminds us of the gifts we hold dearest: faith, family, togetherness. But now, “Home for the Holidays” is also what public health officials encourage to keep ourselves, our loved ones, and our neighbors safe. And for a Habitat family waiting in our pipeline, “Home for the Holidays” is the moment when dreams of safety, stability, and solid foundations become a reality – a gift they can give their children that will shape the course of decades, if not generations, to come.

Before COVID-19, more than 18 million U.S. households — 1 in 6 – spent half or more of their income on housing. With the pandemic’s overwhelming economic impacts continuing to unfold, the number of families struggling to survive is growing. In Catawba County alone, 316 evictions have been filed since June. That’s 316 of our neighbors, their children, and our friends who can’t go home for the holidays. Here at Habitat Catawba Valley, we believe that is 316 families too many.

The economic impacts of COVID-19 extend beyond just the housing market. Interruptions to the supply chain have cause the cost of building materials to rise by as much as 30%. But how do you put a price tag on the true value of home and the strength, security, and self-reliance it builds? That’s why Habitat is as committed as ever to serving the 7 families in our pipeline working to build a home of their own, and the more than 10 families in need of critical repairs to keep their home safe, warm, and welcoming this holiday season.

Fortunately, even in changing times, the most important things remain constant; though the trappings may look different this year, goodwill, kindness, and compassion are still at the heart of our holidays. This season, you can give the gifts of home and hope by investing in homeownership, home repairs, and mortgage assistance for Habitat Catawba families. Your support provides our neighbors with a strong roof to shelter their dreams, and a solid foundation for a more secure future. Your gift of $95.93 will help the first family moving into our new Cottages at Ridgeview neighborhood build their home this Christmas.

Your generosity helps to ensure a family can safely celebrate at home, and a child can still wake up to the feeling of holiday magic. Thank you very much for your compassion for families who urgently need secure housing — this season and every season of the year. You are truly giving the gift of home this holiday season.