Two Habitat Homebuyers Close on First Homes

Two Habitat Homebuyers Close on First Homes; Open Door to More Secure Future


Hickory, NC (July 18th, 2023)-

On Tuesday afternoon, Habitat celebrated closings on its two most recently constructed homes, and two families received the keys to a more secure future. Melissa Cruse and Sharon Gadson represent the newest homeowners who have partnered with Habitat Catawba Valley to build and buy a home of their very own.

Melissa is a mother of 4, and grandmother of two who also serves as a program director for a local non-profit. Sharon is a mother of a Hickory High School student and has worked locally for a corporate uniform provider for the past 2 years. “I’m beyond excited about the new house. My red door and my two trees look amazing,” shared Cruse.

Closing on their homes and opening the door to their next chapter as homeowners is the culmination of a journey that both women began during the pandemic. In addition to building their own home, all Habitat Homebuyers attend budgeting and financial management classes, perform sweat equity hours, and pay an affordable mortgage. Unlike traditional mortgages, Habitat sets mortgage payments at 24% of a family’s income, and provides additional resources from partnering organizations to help keep the cost affordable – including Habitat Catawba Valley’s own in-house down payment assistance. Last year, the average down payment assistance provided by Habitat was $32,633.08 per family.


“I truly believe I would not have had the faith or trust to buy from a traditional lender in a traditional way. But I have never doubted my choice with Habitat. I don’t question the quality of the house. I’m not worried about hidden fine print,” said Cruse.

Cruse and Gadson will be the newest neighbors in Habitat’s Cottages at Ridgeview neighborhood. The Cottages at Ridgeview is a traditional Habitat-built mixed-income community with 4 completed homes, 5 homes under construction, and 6 more on the way. A combination of traditional Habitat homeownership and homes sold on the open market to increase the local workforce housing stock, this project acquired empty lots and vacant buildings and is constructing new, energy efficient craftsmen-styled cottages in their place.

Other Habitat projects in the community include a new 3 tiered construction model, aimed at serving more families faster. “Last year, we received 367 homeownership inquiries. That’s more than a family a day seeking more secure shelter,” explains Habitat Catawba Valley Executive Director Mitzi Gellman. “We know the need for affordable housing outpaces any individual organization’s ability to provide it on their own. The traditional Habitat construction model of a small staff and willing but unskilled volunteers was not designed for today’s housing demand.”

That’s why Habitat Catawba Valley has joined with key partners to diversify its construction model, increase its capacity, and participate in larger, more coordinated projects. This tiered construction model includes traditional Habitat construction where Habitat is the sole builder, hybrid construction where a contractor frames the house and Habitat finishes it, and turnkey construction where a contractor builds the house from start to finish.
Today, Habitat Catawba Valley currently has homes underway in all three tiers of this construction model – including Ridgefield Place in Ridgeview. This project is a public, private, non-profit partnership between Habitat Catawba Valley, The City of Hickory, and JRN Development slated for 21 new construction affordable homes.

What will the future hold for Habitat’s newest homeowners?

For Gadson and her son, it means more quality time. “We enjoy watching movies and cooking together. I graduated with an Associate’s Degree in Culinary Arts. I have a strong passion for cooking and trying out different recipes.”

For the Cruse family, it means laying down roots. “Lots of kids will grow up in this home as I imagine it will be the central, permanent location for everyone in the family. This yard will hold little feet for years to come. These walls and roof will keep little heads safe and sound.”

For more information on the Cottages at Ridgeview and ways to get involved, contact Habitat Catawba Valley at 828-328-4663 x 106 or visit


About Habitat Catawba Valley
Founded in 1985, Habitat for Humanity of Catawba Valley is a non-profit, ecumenical Christian housing organization dedicated to building strength, stability, and self-reliance through shelter.

People in our community partner with Habitat Catawba Valley to build or improve a place they can call home. Habitat homeowners help build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage. Through financial support, volunteering, or adding a voice to support affordable housing, everyone can help families achieve security they need to build better lives for themselves. Through shelter, we empower. To learn more, visit or call 828-328-4663 x 106.

Celebrating the Success of the Foothills Community Housing Fair

Celebrating the Success of the Foothills Community Housing Fair: A Testament to Unity and Progress



We at Habitat Catawba Valley extend our deepest gratitude to all the sponsors, community members, and partners who came together for the recent Foothills Community Housing Fair on June 3rd at the Ridgeview Recreation Center. As part of Catawba County’s month-long Juneteenth Celebration, this event, organized in collaboration with the Hickory NAACP and multiple community partners, exemplified the unwavering commitment to fostering sustainable housing solutions within our community. With the mission of providing affordable homes and empowering families, we witnessed firsthand the positive impact this event had on our shared vision of a brighter future for all.


A Unified Effort:

The Foothills Community Housing Fair was an opportunity for our community members to come together and engage in meaningful conversations about housing challenges, solutions, and resources. We are immensely grateful to the Hickory NAACP for their pivotal role in spearheading this event and working side by side with us and the other members of the Equity and Inclusion Task Force’s Housing Committee to promote our mission of access and opportunity through housing.


Highlighting the Impact:

The fair not only provided a platform for individuals to learn about affordable housing options but also opened doors to various resources, guidance, and networking opportunities. The event was a great opportunity for collaboration between organizations, sponsors, and community members seeking to address critical housing needs in our community.


Recognizing Our Sponsors and Partners:

We would like to extend our thanks to our lead sponsor Peoples Bank, as well as all of the additional sponsors and exhibitors who helped to make this possible. Your commitment to ensuring all families have the keys to build solid homes and secure futures in the Catawba Valley is truly commendable.


A Special Thanks to the Hickory NAACP:

Our gratitude extends to the Hickory NAACP for their visionary leadership and partnership. Their deep understanding of the challenges faced by the community and their commitment to social justice have been an instrumental motivator behind this event. By collaborating with Habitat Catawba Valley and all our sister members of the Housing Committee, the Hickory NAACP showed how organizations can unite to directly create change in our community.


Looking Ahead:

The Foothills Community Housing Fair serves as a testament to the power of collective action, and the potential impact it can have on our community. As we reflect on this event, we are reminded of the work that still lies ahead. Habitat Catawba Valley remains committed to our mission of building affordable homes, advocating for equitable housing policies, and empowering families in need. Together with our partners and supporters, we will continue to work tirelessly towards a future where safe and decent housing is a reality for all.



Again, we want to express our deepest appreciation to all the sponsors, partners, and community members who came together to make this event a success. Through collaboration and a shared commitment to our mission, we were able to take a step forward in strengthening the community’s knowledge about housing, homeownership, and the resources available. Let us carry the spirit of unity and progress forward as we strive to create a better future for all residents of Catawba Valley.


See our image gallery below from the event:


Calling all Exhibitors: The 2023 Foothills NAACP Community Housing Fair

Calling all Exhibitors: 2023 Foothills NAACP Community Housing Fair


The Foothills Community Housing Fair is a one-stop shop to learn everything you need to know about buying, renting, improving, or maintaining an affordable place to call home. The Hickory NAACP Equity and Inclusion Task Force invites you to join us as an exhibitor at the Foothills Community Housing Fair. This event showcases leaders across the affordable housing industry who are providing the education, resources, and services our neighbors need to build a solid foundation.

You are invited to showcase your business or organization to residents seeking affordable housing solutions. Whether you are a housing agency, a non-profit service provider, or an industry professional – you have the keys residents can use to unlock more affordable, attainable, and sustainable futures. Your presence gives visitors a one-stop shot to learn everything they need to know about buying, renting, improving, or maintaining a decent place to call home.


Exhibitors fall into 2 main categories“Non-profit or Government” Service Providers or Industry Professionals. Both provide the essential tools that attendees from our 5 county region can use to build more secure futures. Select your best-fit category below, and follow the links to complete registration.

Service Provider Registration

Non-Profits, Housing Counselors, and Government Agencies


Industry Professional Registration

Realtors, Lenders, Rentals, and Business Experts


Habitat Repairs! program helps Newton couple while honoring retired manager Richard Greathouse

Habitat Catawba Valley honors the career of Richard Greathouse and helps a Newton, NC family in need.

For the Coulter Family “Home” was a place where they raised their children, who are now grown and living on their own. Their family is close, and find joy and meaning in their service to their community.  Their home, that once brought them so much joy, needed repairs. Built in 1969, the Coulter’s purchased their home when they were younger.

We didn’t think about getting to the stage in life that we wouldn’t be able to go up and down stairs. We were young and didn’t think about long term needs we would have in our home. (Shirley Coulter, Homeowner in need)

She and her husband James hope they will be able to live in their home for years to come. Only now, health issues and the cost of medical care means some repairs on the home, that they are so proud to own, are placed on hold.  

Mrs. Coulter contacted Habitat for Humanity of Catawba Valley’s home repair program, after she “heard so many things about Habitat and how they work to serve others, to make life better and help keep you in your home for as long as possible.”  Launched in 2015, the Habitat Repairs! program fixes older, owner-occupied homes with the goal of improving health, safety, and security for low-income families, the elderly, and people with disabilities. 

The type of repairs we do are typically things that will keep the homeowner safe, warm and dry. We primarily do roof repairs, improve handicap access at the home, and some plumbing and electrical jobs. (Richard Greathouse, retired Habitat Repairs supervisor)

To honor Greathouse for his more than 30 years of service to Habitat Catawba Valley, the Coulter home repairs are funded by gifts to the Habitat Repairs! fund from family and friends. In all more than $6,000 was raised, enough to cover part of the repair costs. Foundation grants and other donations will make up the difference in cost.  


For the Coulters’, Habitat’s help means they will finally have a safe and handicap accessible bathroom and shower to accommodate the wheelchair Mrs. Coulter uses to get around her home. Additionally, Habitat volunteers and staff will remove an old carport that is unsafe and oversee some electrical repairs. The payment to cover the repair work is based upon what the family can reasonability afford to pay.  The amount of work on the Coulter’s home is typical for the Habitat Repairs! staff.

On average Habitat Catawba will complete 1 of 4 repairs per home that we serve.  Things like leaking roofs, broken heating systems, plumbing and electrical issues. Problems that by the time families seek help, they have experienced years of delayed repairs due to the high cost of fixing their homes. The positive impact for homeowners extends past the tangible work:  a new roof eliminates mold and standing water in homes; new or updated HVAC units provide heat and air conditioning where there was none; accessibility ramps improve independence; and electrical and plumbing repairs eliminate dangerous and unsafe conditions. (Mitzi Gellman, Habitat Executive Director)


The Hickory metropolitan statistical area has the oldest housing stock in North Carolina. The need continues to grow.  But, so will the Repairs! program.  In 2021, Habitat Repairs! with Richard help completed 120 home repairs and served 47 individuals all with the goal of keeping our elderly and frail Safe, Warm and Dry. We are so thankful for all of the work that you have done to help turn the Habitat Repairs! program into what it is today. THANK YOU RICHARD!

The work at the Coulter home is ongoing and will be completed in early 2023. The family is excitedly waiting for the repairs to be completed. 


To learn more about the Habitat Repairs! program, visit:

To make a financial impact and help Habitat Catawba Valley serve more people in the community, click “Donate Now” in the menu bar or visit:



About Catawba Valley Habitat for Humanity 

Seeking to put God’s love into action, Habitat for Humanity of Catawba Valley is a non-profit, ecumenical Christian housing organization dedicated to building strength, stability, and self-reliance through shelter. Since 1985, Habitat Catawba Valley has parterned with families to build or improve a place they can call home. Through financial support, volunteering, or advocating in support of affordable housing, everyone can help families achieve security they need to build solid foundations. To learn more, visit or call 828-328-4663×315. 

New Homeowner Welcomed in Ridgeview

New Homeowner Welcomed in Ridgeview


Hickory, NC (Nov 29, 2022)-

On Tuesday morning, Habitat Catawba Valley welcomed their newest member to the Cottages at Ridgeview community. Niya Mayfield, born and raised in Hickory, NC, began her Habitat journey during the pandemic. Today, she receives her keys, and moves into her new home – right next door to the lot where she grew up. Niya is thrilled to take the final step in her journey back home, and the first step into creating new memories and future possibilities.  


“Owning a home will mean a lot to my family considering that I’m getting older.  It’s important for me to start thinking about what I’m going to leave for my family.” said Niya at the beginning of her Habitat Journey

Niya’s home in Ridgeview is actually right next to where she grew up. A far cry from what once stood on this corner, Niya’s new home is energy efficient and affordable, thanks to Habitat’s innovative approach to homebuilding. All of our homes at the Cottages in Ridgeview are Energy Star certified, allowing the homeowners to have predictable, manageable utility payments.

What will the future hold for Habitat’s newest homeowner?

Niya and her sons plan to enjoy spending time together, and with their extended family (some of which are already existing Habitat homeowners!). They look forward to the opportunity to go out to eat, and see movies together in their new home. Niya loves to cook for her extended family, and is excited to use her new open floorplan and kitchen to entertain.

For more information on the Cottages at Ridgeview and ways to get involved, contact Habitat Catawba Valley at 828-328-4663 x 106 or visit


About Habitat Catawba Valley
Founded in 1985, Habitat for Humanity of Catawba Valley is a non-profit, ecumenical Christian housing organization dedicated to building strength, stability, and self-reliance through shelter.

People in our community partner with Habitat Catawba Valley to build or improve a place they can call home. Habitat homeowners help build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage. Through financial support, volunteering, or adding a voice to support affordable housing, everyone can help families achieve security they need to build better lives for themselves. Through shelter, we empower. To learn more, visit or call 828-328-4663 x 106.

Habitat Catawba Valley receives transformational $2.5M gift from MacKenzie Scott

Nationwide, 84 Habitat affiliates and Habitat for Humanity International will benefit from MacKenzie Scott’s massive $436M donation

Habitat Catawba Valley is honored to announce a transformational $2.5 million unrestricted gift from author and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. Out of 1,000 U.S. affiliates, Habitat Catawba Valley is proud to be selected along with 83 sister affiliates and Habitat for Humanity International as a beneficiary of this unprecedented $436 million total donation. This transformative gift will substantially help further Habitat’s vision of a world where everyone has equitable access to a safe, decent and affordable place to call home.

“MacKenzie Scott’s generosity is truly transformational not only for Habitat Catawba Valley, but also for disrupting the established philanthropy model,” explains Habitat Catawba Valley Executive Director, Mitzi Gellman. “Her belief in the value of our work, as demonstrated by the unrestricted nature of this gift, allows us to leverage its impact where it matters the most.”

In the Catawba Valley, our most vulnerable residents face the ongoing burden of living in the oldest stock in the state – along with new pressures from the economic fallout of the pandemic and its aftermath, and crippling housing prices due to this unprecedented housing market. This gift allows Habitat Catawba Valley to act on long established priority areas, while still being responsive to the changing landscape of affordable housing needs.

Ms. Scott’s contribution is more than just an infusion of much needed financial support – it’s a force multiplier that enables Habitat Catawba Valley to revitalize neighborhoods, prioritize equitable development, pursue innovative housing solutions, leverage partnerships, and build solid foundations for our neighbors and our community.

Habitat Catawba Valley plans to use this gift as an accelerant to bolster affordable housing and home repair throughout our service area, revitalize underinvested communities historically blocked from economic opportunities due to racial inequities, and advocate for policy and systems changes that will increase access and drive the volume of affordable homeownership opportunities for lower wealth families and individuals.

“The size of this gift speaks to the magnitude of need when it comes to affordable housing. This is a critical juncture in our community’s housing growth, and it is imperative that we act with urgency and innovation to ensure the door to homeownership doesn’t close permanently to our neighbors who need it most,” explains Gellman. “Ms. Scott’s gift is an investment in families and in futures. We hope her generosity will inspire other change agents to come alongside her and act for shelter. Together, we can build more, serve more, and do more for our neighbors and our community.”

Homeownership with Habitat


Recently, Habitat hosted a zoom meeting with a panel of Habitat homeowners and families to talk about their experiences with Habitat and their homes.  Participants Latoya, Jose, Darian, and Toni were all smiles as they shared their stories with the group.

What does your home mean to you?

For Habitat homeowners, a home means stability.  If you’re someone that has always had a home and family, then you, like me, probably have never fully appreciated the importance of the stability that comes with living in your own home.  Habitat helps its homeowners build stability for themselves and their families in many areas.

One important area is stability within the family.  While speaking about their families, our panel participants emphasized that their homes were somewhere for their families to be to together.  Latoya shared that her new Habitat home is like her “world away from the world” where she and her family can be themselves and be safe as we could hear her son happily hanging out in the background.  Sisters Darian and Toni recalled graduation parties and family reunions that were made possible by their home.

Financial stability is another significant effect of homeownership.  A requirement of owning a home with Habitat is taking homebuyer education classes that promote sustainable money management skills.  Latoya shared about how helpful it was for her to learn about how to avoid debt, how to save, and how to manage special situations, like a car repair, without getting into a bind.  Habitat also works hard to accommodate the families it works with by keeping mortgage payments at or below 30% of the family’s monthly gross income.  In addition to that, Habitats energy efficient building strategies save families $300 – $1100 a year in energy costs.

Homeownership also leads to greater stability in education and health.  Studies show that young children of homeowners see higher achievement in school, leading to a higher likelihood of teenage students staying in school and overall higher educational attainment.  Homeownership leads to higher lifetime earnings. Homeowners also report greater life satisfaction, higher self-esteem, and better physical health.  With consistent, affordable mortgage payments and financial management skills,  Habitat homeowners have the flexibility to make forward looking choices and are better able to eat healthy food, receive necessary healthcare, and participate in healthy activities.

All that being said, homeownership with Habitat is best summed up in the words of our homeowners:

“Habitat treats us like family” – Jose

“A home is a true foundation that everyone needs…Habitat makes it possible for us.” – Latoya

What do you think of when you think Habitat for Humanity?

You probably thought of three things:  building homes, volunteering, and donating.  These three things are what Habitat focuses on every single day in communities all over the world, but there is more to the story.

What these daily operations are really combating is the affordable housing crisis that exists in our country.

To be considered “affordable,” the home a family is in should cost less than 30% of the family’s income.  In our country, one out of every three families pays more than that 30%.  Furthermore, one out of every six families must put 50% or more of their income toward their home, more than 18 million U.S households!  Due to the hardships brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, even more families are struggling to make ends meet.

Practically, a family paying such high amounts for their home is forced to choose what they can afford.  Should they pay too much for a safe home and access to good schools, but not be able to afford nutritious food or healthcare?

Habitat believes that no family should have to sacrifice necessities in order to afford a home, and we are doing something about it!

Introducing the Cost of Home Advocacy Campaign!

The goal of this campaign is to spark policy change at the local, state, and federal government levels surrounding affordable housing in four areas:

  1. Increasing resources for home production through expanding existing resources, creating housing bonds and trust funds, and allowing tax credits for building affordable housing.
  2. Pushing for inclusive access to credit by expanding down payment assistance, expanding financial education and housing counseling, and combating predatory lending.
  3. Expanding equitable access to land through passing inclusionary housing policies, streamlining land use approvals, and improving zoning ordinances.
  4. Building communities of opportunity by expanding home repair/modification assistance, eliminating “Just Cause” eviction laws, and increasing property tax relief for lower-income homeowners.

The scale of the housing needs in our country are beyond the scale of Habitat’s local programs, but with your help, we can fight for a change that will help every family build a solid foundation for their future.

To get involved today, you can start here!

Habitat Catawba Valley & ReStore Catawba Reopening Update

Shelter and safety go hand in hand. Though our doors have been closed to the public, the team at Habitat Catawba Valley has still been hard at work this entire time building forward. Now, we are excited to announce that we are beginning to resume some of our public operations. Our staged reopening prioritizes the areas of service which are most essential to our mission and in which we can best guarantee the safety of our staff, supporters, and neighbors. We have implemented increased safety and sanitation measures throughout our operations. We look forward to welcoming you back as we reopen our public offerings. Below is an overview of our current measures. We will continue to monitor the local health landscape and respond accordingly, so check back often for updates! As always, we thank you for your continued kindness and cooperation as we work to build safety, strength, and stability for all our Catawba Valley neighbors.

Reopening measures:

  • Habitat Catawba Valley & ReStore Catawba have taken the Open & Safe Commitment.
  • ReStore Catawba is open and welcoming shoppers with expanded hours Wednesday – Saturday, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
  • Contact-free donation drop off times Monday – Saturday, 10:00 am – 3:00 pm, or schedule a pick up by calling 828-327-7467.
  • You can shop the ReStore online at
  • Weekly Shop and Save days will return when the ReStore is able to return to full operation. Follow the ReStore social media accounts for information on special sales and discount days that will happen during our current operating hours.
  • In compliance with the state mandate, masks are required in the ReStore.
  • In an effort to keep you, our volunteers, and our staff safe, you are responsible for unloading your own donations, or you can schedule a contact free pick up by calling the ReStore or providing your information here: ReStore customers will also be responsible for loading their own purchases.
  • Construction continues across three different work sites and repairs, utilizing staff only for the moment.
  • Homeowners continue to move through the acceptance, construction, and homebuyer education process.
  • The main office is still closed to the public; however, the staff is still hard at work. If you need to connect with a staff member, we recommend using email for the fastest reply. You can find staff contact info here:
  • We are planning a staged reopening for our volunteer program, beginning with small crews of regular volunteers. Check back here for updates on individual and group opportunities as they become available.

Director’s Corner – Being a Hero Begins at Home

Now more than ever, Home is the center of our lives.

Mitzi Gellman

In no other time has our Home been asked to do more. From transforming into a home office, to a school classroom, to a quarantine facility, to a full-time restaurant, our Homes have taken on the jobs that we used to do past our front door.

We are sheltering in place for the good of our community, but we are a country of “doers”. When there is a disaster, we sign up, we volunteer, we hammer, we roll up our sleeves and donate blood, we console our far-flung neighbors, we pray together for healing and hope.

Never have we been asked to help by staying home. And while there may be another person or two to look after – I have an ever-needy golden retriever and an aloof cat – we are isolating in our homes to help ourselves and our brothers and sisters.

Staying at home is hard. It’s not me. I’ve found myself wearing my Presbyterian Disaster Assistance t-shirt as a reminder of a time when I was a “doer” on a post Hurricane Katrina mission trip to New Orleans.

Unlike with a hurricane, there are no walls or roofs to replace with this kind of a disaster. But there will be lives to be rebuilt. Together, we build homes. But more than that, we build strength, stability, and self-reliance through shelter. So whether you or your neighbors are sheltering in place, sheltering your family, or sheltering your dreams for the future, Habitat has your back.

And when it’s time, we’ll be back as the nation of “doers” and Habitat will need your help. Until then, thank you for all you are doing to keep our community safe. Heroes really are made home.

In peace and partnership,

Mitzi Gellman

COVID-19 Update 4/1/2020

Dear Neighbors,

These are uncharted times for our community and events are changing quickly. Just 10 days ago, Habitat suspended public operations through March 31st.

Now updated CDC and NCDHHS guidelines for North Carolina mean that Habitat will be on hold longer than originally planned. Despite this set back, I want you to know that Habitat Catawba Valley is still here with you, and we have a blueprint for how to continue serving Catawba County.

Habitat Catawba Valley is hard at work providing affordable housing to our neighbors. Now more than ever, it’s important to build strength and stability. These core values guide our mission, and our readiness to serve.

Even in rocky times, we are working to build solid foundations. Habitat is moving forward with new homes in Ridgeview, while also finalizing closing documents and loans for our newest homebuyers. We’re also tailoring our support to current Habitat families, who by no fault of their own have decreased income. Help comes in the way of identifying jobs, connecting homeowners with community resources, and modifying house payment plans where needed.

Habitat will share these resources with you as well. We know that so many of us are facing the same challenges. We are all in this together.

To you all, I want to say: we are here. We are in this together. And Habitat is working harder than ever to bring strength, stability, and security to Catawba County. If there is any way Habitat can help you, please reach out. In the meantime, my prayer for you and your family is to have good health and find comfort in the days and weeks ahead.

In peace and partnership,

Mitzi Gellman

COVID-19 Update 3/16/2020

More than an organization, Habitat Catawba Valley prides ourselves on being a community of supporters. Therefore, in the interest of keeping our community safe, we have decided to suspend all public operations until March 31st. This is not an easy decision, nor a light one, but we feel that it is a socially responsible one.

The team at Habitat Catawba Valley has been vigilantly monitoring the latest COVID-19 safety guidelines from local, state, and national health authorities. It is under these guidelines that we have decided to close our office building, ReStore, and worksites and to suspend volunteer activities until March 31st. However, we continue to closely follow this changing situation, and will continue to provide necessary updates should any arise.

We are still committed to the work ahead of us; we are monitoring the situation so that we may provide the least amount of disruption to our affordable housing services, while still prioritizing the health of the community first and foremost. To this end, staff will be working remotely to serve clients, maintain donor relations, and move projects along. We are in close communication with each of our partners, and are working together to develop the best plan forward for all of our upcoming projects in the interest of public health.

At Habitat Catawba Valley, we often thank you for working with us to build something better. However, that could not be more true than in moments like these. We appreciate your continued support, flexibility, and commitment to building strength, stability, and self-reliance through shelter. Our thoughts are with all our neighbors across the globe who have been impacted by the coronavirus. And we wish you and your family health, safety, and support during this challenging time.

As always, thank you for joining us in the belief that everyone needs a decent place to live, and in the work to make that belief a reality.

In peace and partnership,

Mitzi Gellman

Habitat for Humanity of Catawba valley wins 2019 Housing Innovation Award

The United States Department of Energy has selected Habitat for Humanity of Catawba Valley as one of the winners of the 2019 Housing Innovation Award winners! This award was presented for Habitat’s work in building Zero-Energy Ready affordable housing and marks the fourth straight year that Habitat Catawba Valley has received this honor.

Zero Energy Ready homes have been a priority for Habitat Catawba Valley for years: back in 2016, two Habitat Catawba homes were certified Zero Energy Ready, the first two homes in the state of North Carolina to achieve the certification. Being certified as Zero Energy Ready means that these homes are highly energy efficient and can have all or most of their energy use “offset” by a renewable energy system, like solar power. This is achieved in part due to strong insulation systems, which help to increase energy efficiency while preventing heat transfer.

While energy-efficiency is often a feature of higher-income housing, Habitat Catawba Valley has made it a priority for new construction affordable housing. Energy-efficient housing makes it easier to properly and consistently maintain proper heating and cooling levels, which lower-income housing often struggles with. This makes the homes more affordable for homeowners to maintain over the lifetime of the house.

To learn more about the Housing Innovation Awards, be sure to visit the DOE website, and our previous winning entries are also available at the DOE Tour of Zero website.

Looking For A New Home?

Beautiful Energy Star New Construction

Located in NE Hickory. 3 Bedroom/ 2 Bath one-level home situated on a level corner lot in desirable Catawba County School district. You’ll enjoy plenty of outdoor time on the covered wrap around porch. On the interior, you’ll find high ceilings and lots of windows that let in tons of natural light. Beautiful brand new finishings such as durable vinyl plank flooring throughout, craftsman style doors, light neutral colors, recessed lighting, and dark wood cabinetry. 2×6 wall construction makes this home extremely energy efficient so you’ll be able to enjoy low energy costs. Home also comes with 1 year builder warranty.

Click below to view the listing and to schedule a viewing!

Learn More!

A Place to Call Home | Abdallas’s Journey

Abdalla Mumed was still a child when he put on his soldier’s uniform for the first time.

Drafted into the Ethiopian military at 17 years old, he served for nearly three years before he was falsely imprisoned and tortured. He and a few companions managed to escape. Hiding by day and walking by night they headed towards the Somalian border. Abdalla battled dehydration, starvation, and the fear of being captured by the soldiers sent to find and kill him, but he kept walking.

Just when the group’s strength was ready to give out, some generous villagers took pity on the young men. “The village men gave us water, milk, and tea. They brought us back to life and helped us cross the border into Somalia” says Abdulla.

He spent the next six years at a Somalian refugee camp before learning that First Presbyterian Church of Hickory, NC had agreed to sponsor his immigration process. In September 1989 Abdalla arrived at the Charlotte, NC airport ready to begin his new life in the United States. Eleven years later, citizenship papers in hand, he returned to Ethiopia. During his two month stay in Ethiopia, he met and married his wife, Chaltu.

It took nearly a year and a half for the couple to complete the immigration process so that Chaltu could join Abdalla in the United States. However, in 2002 the arduous process was successfully completed and the couple celebrated Chaltu’s arrival North Carolina.  Not only did Chaltu start a new life in Hickory, she and Abdalla also started their new family together. They welcomed Rahima, their first daughter in 2005 followed a year and a half later by their son Elemo. During this time, Abdalla enrolled in computer engineering courses at Catawba Valley Community College (CVCC) and began work with a local company to provide for his family.

After more than a decade of building a new life, Abdalla dreamed of having a house he and his growing family could finally call “home.”

Habitat for Humanity of Catawba Valley exists to make that dream of home a reality for families just like Abdalla’s. Habitat Catawba Valley is a Christian nonprofit charged with creating decent, affordable housing in partnership with those in need, and with making shelter a matter of conscience for people everywhere. To date, Abdalla and his family are one of 171 families who own a Habitat home in Catawba County. Each home built by Habitat Catawba Valley is a collaborative, community effort. Habitat homes are constructed with funds from the local community and through the generosity of hundreds of volunteers.

Our local team was more than happy to partner with Abdalla’s hardworking family and helped make their dreams of stability and homeownership a reality in January 2008.

However, while a Habitat home provides families a strong foundation, it isn’t a magic bullet; families must still put in the work to continue building their more secure future. Unfortunately, just as the Mumed family finalized the purchase of their home, Abdalla received devastating news; he was being laid off. The recession hit Hickory and Abdalla’s position was one of the first casualties.

Yet, drawing on the self-reliance he gained through the Habitat process, Abdalla was determined to never miss a house payment and accepted a part-time job just to make ends meet. That same year, Chaltu was badly burned in a kitchen accident and was transferred to Baptist hospital for nearly 3 weeks of intensive care. It was impossible to balance caregiving for his wife and children and his job, and by June 2008 Abdalla was once again unemployed.

Valuing the principle of commitment, the Mumed family kept their house payments current this entire time. However, they ended up quietly taking on significant debt in order to cover all their obligations. Because of the family’s absolute determination to make their payments and due to their reluctance to ask for help, Habitat was initially unaware of the financial strain the family was experiencing.

However, partnership to Habitat is about walking the walk. Therefore, when Abdalla finally turned to Habitat for help along the way, he was relieved to learn that our commitment to his family did not end when we handed him the key to their new home. We worked together with our local partners to temporality establish a more affordable house payment.

Habitat Catawba Valley also provided assistance through our Habitat Repairs! program when the Mumed’s heat pump broke unexpectedly several years later. It was the dead of winter when the family’s heat pump failed. Abdalla paid $1,300 to have a subcontractor fix it, but the unit was never returned to working order, leaving the family without heat and without their savings. That’s when the Mumed’s applied to Habitat Catawba Valley’s repair program. For a modest payment, Habitat was able to fix the unit, return the home to a healthy and comfortable environment, and empower the Mumed’s to feel invested in the maintenance of their home without creating an undue financial burden for the family.

Slowly but surely Abdalla and his family fought their way back to solvency despite the ongoing recession. As the economy began to recover and more doors opened, Abdalla celebrated many new milestones. He began work as a stocker in the local WalMart, a job which he continues to this day. May 2015 marked the culminated of his years of study, as Abdalla completed his coursework at CVCC and earned his Associate’s degree in Applied Science.

In 2011, Abdalla and Chaltu welcomed their third daughter, Radiyah followed by the birth of their fourth and final child Raeefah in August 2017.

Today, the Mumed’s continue to be an active part of the Catawba community. Chaltu stays home with the children and anyone who has had the opportunity to try her sambusas knows what a phenomenal cook she is! All four children are beautiful, helpful around the house, and the oldest three are doing great in school. Radiyah is competitive in soccer, and Rahima loves to read. To Kill a Mockingbird and A Wrinkle in Time are her most recent recommendations! Abdalla’s next goal is to secure a job that will allow him to use his degree.

For more than a decade, Habitat for Humanity has been there to both celebrate Abdalla’s successes and offer support in times of need. The Mumed’s have also welcomed our team into their home, shared fellowship, and showered us in food and fresh eggs from their chickens. During all this time, Abdalla has faithfully met his house and repair program payments, maintained his spirit of partnership, and shares his story to inspire other families who turn to Habitat for help.

Habitat for Humanity exists for hardworking people like Abdalla. Abdalla’s journey to find peace, love, and a home has been a long one; and all of us here at Habitat are blessed to serve and share in his journey.

There are many hard-working families that qualify for Habitat’s program in our community. We need your help to serve them. Please join us by donating today.

Donate Today

Research Summary: Beneficial Impacts of Homeownership

Homeownership is a crucial foundation for helping low-income families find a path out of poverty. When they move out of substandard housing and into simple, decent, affordable homes, homeowners and their families frequently improve their health, educational attainment, safety and personal wealth.

“A quality home is more than just a roof and walls,” said Renée Glover, chair of Habitat for Humanity International’s Board of Directors. “It provides homeowners with feelings of stability and pride, as well as generating measurable results such as decreased doctor visits and increased high school graduation rates.”

“Academic research and surveys point to one inescapable conclusion: that owning one’s home enhances quality of life in a variety of specific, verifiable ways. This is true whether the homes are associated with Habitat for Humanity or not.”

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development says studies have shown that “homeowners accumulate wealth as the investment in their homes grows, enjoy better living conditions, are often more involved in their communities, and have children who tend on average to do better in school and are less likely to become involved in crime.”

The research is clear:

Homeownership leads to better health.

  • “A safe, decent, affordable home is like a vaccine,” Dr. Megan Sandel of the Boston University School of Medicine testified to Congress in 2007. “It literally prevents disease. A safe home can prevent mental health and developmental problems, a decent home may prevent asthma or lead poisoning, and an affordable home can prevent stunted growth and unnecessary hospitalizations.”
  • Poor housing conditions contribute to asthma and other physical illnesses. Decent, affordable housing can help children with asthma address their health needs, according to a report by the Center for Housing Policy.
  • A national survey of Habitat homeowners found that 74% said their families’ overall health had improved since moving into their home.

Homeownership leads to greater educational achievements.

  •  Children of homeowners are significantly more likely to stay in school until age 17 than children of renters, especially in low-income households, according to a study in the Journal of Urban Economics.
  • Children in homeowning families outperform children in renting families in both math and reading achievement tests, even when other factors are the same. These children will have fewer behavioral problems, higher educational attainment and greater future earnings, according to a study by an Ohio State University economist.
  • A 2011 survey of U.S. Habitat homeowners by the University of Southern Indiana found that 57% of adults in the households were furthering their education.
  • The graduation rate for children of homeowners is 19% higher than for renters, and they are twice as likely to acquire some postsecondary education, according to a study in a journal published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Homeownership provides better security and safety.

  •  A study of violent crime in New York City suburbs found that homeownership status significantly reduced a household’s incidence of crime. Another study showed that homeowners have significantly less risk of being subject to a violent assault.
  • According to a survey of more than 400 Habitat homeowners in Minnesota conducted by Wilder Research of St. Paul, 83% consider their children safer after the families move into a Habitat home.
  • A 2011 national survey of Habitat homeowners by the United States of Southern Indiana found that 84% felt safe in their neighborhoods.

Homeownership helps generate wealth building and a pathway out of poverty.

  •  “For most buyers, homeownership leads to wealth creation,” stated a report in the Journal of Housing Studies. “As home equity increases, some homeowners may decide that they have the financial resources to secure additional education for themselves or their children.”
  • “The median net wealth of low-income homeowners is dramatically higher than the median net wealth of low-income renters,” according to a 2005 report by the Joint Center for Housing Studies.
  • The Minnesota survey of Habitat homeowners found that 53% said they have more money since moving into their Habitat home; two-thirds are more confident about their ability to fund their children’s college education, and almost 40% said they pay less in housing costs. Use of government assistance also declined notably.
  • A 2014 study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston of homes with a student about to enter college found that a modest increase in home value for homeowners led to an increase in the child’s earnings later in life, while an increase in a property’s value for renters led to a decrease in the child’s earnings.

The benefits of homeownership are indisputable. Habitat for Humanity will continue to work toward a world where everyone has a decent place to live, and where measurable improvements in health, education, security and wealth generation are enjoyed by more and more homeowners.

Download original PDF for sources.

Your Voice Matters: Housing Survey

Quality housing is a critical factor in building a future for Catawba County that is economically vibrant for years to come. And your voice matters! Therefore, we are proud to announce that Habitat Catawba Valley has teamed up with the Catawba County Chamber, Catawba County EDC, and the Catawba Valley Association of Realtors to create a county-wide housing survey.

We are seeking the input of BOTH Catawba County employers AND local employees to better understand the following:

  • Current status and perceptions of your business and employees as it pertains to the recruitment and retention of talent
  • The effect of the Catawba County housing market on the recruitment & retention of talent
  • Decision-making factors that contribute to local employees choosing to live in or outside of Catawba County

This survey should take no longer than 7 minutes to complete and will contribute greatly to the priorities and actions of the various stakeholders moving forward.Thank you in advance for your engagement in this special way.

After you take the survey, forward it to all of your contacts who live and work in Catawba County. The more diverse our response rate is, the better our understanding will be of the diverse housing needs across our community

Survey Deadline: Friday, May 17th.

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Habitat Catawba Valley Receives the 2018 Housing North Carolina Award

Habitat took home North Carolina’s top honor for excellence in affordable housing!

Habitat Catawba Valley was honored with the 2018 Housing North Carolina Award for our groundbreaking mixed-income Northstone neighborhood. Presented by the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency during this fall’s NC Affordable Housing Conference, the award recognizes projects that exemplify what affordable living looks like across all categories of housing, including home ownership developments, apartments for seniors and families, and permanent supportive housing for adults with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities.

Click here for the full press release.

Habitat Partners with Copperweld Building Wire

Recently, Habitat Catawba Valley entered into a new partnership with Copperweld Building Wire who donated their new Cu-Clad NM brand of Building Wire for our most recent houses in Northstone. They even sent a team of folks to help guide us through the install on the first project!

“I have to admit, I went to Hickory believing I had a pretty good grasp on the works of Habitat for Humanity. But after spending a few hours with Derek, I gained a new appreciation for all that takes place behind the scenes. In my personal view, it’s the most worthwhile organization in the country. It’s a place where monies and time that are donated actually work and produce something physical and immediate that helps people right away. From a Copperweld perspective, we are very proud to be partnering with you and we look forward to more opportunities,” said Peter Graser, the Copperweld supervisor on site.

Thanks to Copperweld, and cheers to everyone working to build something better in the Catawba Valley!

Habitat Repairs! 82 and Counting

New roof and gutters on a 100 year old home:

habitat catawba new roof

Habitat Repairs! Currently has 8 home repairs under way, 12 waiting to start and 12 more in process of being approved.

habitat catawba consider helping

Please consider helping out in any way you can.
We could not do it without you!


Satisfied Mortgage, Proud Mom

Over the years I feel like I’ve not only formed a partnership with Habitat for Humanity, but I’ve also gained a second family. A family that truly cares about their homeowners. Even now that I own my home, I will forever be an ambassador for Habitat for Humanity; they have truly changed my life. Becoming a homeowner is the greatest feeling, I am truly blessed and thankful for the opportunity.

Thank you, Habitat for Humanity, First Presbyterian Church, volunteers and everyone that gave me encouragement along the way!”

National Women Build Week Recap

Since its inception in 2008, NWBW has brought together more than 117,000 all-women construction volunteers to build or repair homes with nearly 5,000 families over the past 10 years. This year, Lowe’s donated nearly $2 million to Habitat for Humanity to support the 2018 National Women Build Week, which took place in 300 communities nationwide.

Locally, Habitat Catawba served with 51 volunteers who volunteered 197 hours repairing, building, and painting homes in Northstone and on a repair site.. Thank you for joining with us to build something better in our community!

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Why ReStore?

Our charge is to be good stewards! Think “value center”, a delicate tightrope walk between “thrift” and “full retail”, where prices are balanced to attract shoppers and honor donors. Valuation of donated items can be challenging. Many times we aren’t provided with retail or wholesale pricing, or the pieces are antique or collectible. We get a wide range of products, both new and gently used items such as furniture, home décor, glass and dishware, and yes, even construction materials. The internet is an important tool in researching price, with a world of shopping sites at a touch. We even shop other Restores to compare pricing in our general market area. In the end, pricing becomes best judgement based on retail knowledge and collective experience.

Want to be part of our ReStore pricing team? Sign up to volunteer at or stop in the store. We’ll walk you through our process and show you how the Restore donations area works, pricing and tagging methods, along with some merchandising strategies. Then, turn you loose on incoming donations!

Click here to learn more about the ReStore.

Habitat’s Generational Impact

Quotation from an adult who grew up in a Habitat home:

“We are at my parents’ house—our Habitat home—all the time—me, my sisters, our children. This is our home place; this is our safe place; this is where we gather. This home is important to all of us, and we won’t let it go, ever.”

The Impact of Our Work

We at Habitat see the impact of our work on the next generation in what we hear from our homeowners and in what we see – in the invitations to high school and college graduations, in the reports from proud parents about the many successes of their children in academics, sports, jobs, and more. Even when Habitat homeowners continue to struggle with low income and the health and career setbacks that can accompany it, we see the next generation, the one that grows up in a stable household, thriving.

I visited in the home of a Habitat homeowner who is a grandmother, and I just happened to be there when her teenage grandson stopped by with his friend to have a snack and to check on her. I visited with a great-grandmother who was caring for her three- and six- year-old great-grandchildren in her Habitat home until her granddaughter could get off from a second shift job to pick them up. Times like these are happening in Habitat houses throughout Catawba County where younger generations of Habitat families continue to have a safe place to grow.

A striking similarity in what we hear from our homeowners is the fervency in their voices as they tell us how important their house is to them. They want us to understand how grateful they are, not only for the opportunity of homeownership for themselves, but more than that, for what their Habitat house is doing for their children, and their children’s children.

Click here to make an impact with Habitat Catawba Valley.

Habitat’s Ramirez-Escobar Family Pays Off Mortgage

The Ramirez-Escobar family paid off their mortgage recently. Here is their story:

“Our lives have changed enormously since our arrival in this country seventeen years ago. We arrived with a suitcase full of dreams and hopes for a chance to rebuild our life. One of our goals was to acquire a home of our own. A goal that seemed so impossible at that time since we did not have resources,  five mouths to feed and a single source of income. However, Habitat for Humanity appeared giving us hope that homeownership in the states was a possibility for my family.

Moving forward 17 years. We have been owners for many years and are happily enjoying our home. It is very comfortable, cozy and beautiful to us, where we have had the opportunity to cherish many great moments. Habitat for Humanity gave us the chance to be owners and concentrate our attention on the educating our children, and ourselves while we learned English and adapted to our new lives in the states.

I am very proud of where we are. I have had the opportunity to serve as a Spanish Teacher teaching others about the incredible contributions of the Spanish Language and culture to students at Hickory and Career Magnet School. My husband had the Opportunity to graduate from the Upholstery Academy at CVCC. My oldest son Juan Esteban is currently enrolled in the Doctor of Educational Leadership program at Appalachian State University completing his dissertation on the Strengths that Latinx Parents exhibit in educational spaces. My son Alexander gave me the blessing of being the grandmother of a handsome boy who today is 11 years old, Elija Alexander and my youngest son Santiago today is studying International Business as a sophomore at UNC Charlotte.

Thanks to the Hickory Habitat for Humanity Team for giving us the opportunity of homeownership. Your impressive team guided us through the program and welcomed us to our new life in the United States. We are forever indebted for your kindness and support. We extend our gratitude to the boots on the grounds- volunteers for making it happen.

Thank you for a chance to live in a safe, and peaceful environment. Our seeds are blooming.

Yolima Escobar
Habitat Catawba Valley Homeowner

Ramirez-Escobar Family Pays Off Mortgage

Moving forward 17 years. We have been owners for many years and are happily enjoying our home. It is very comfortable, cozy and beautiful to us, where we have had the opportunity to cherish many great moments. Habitat for Humanity gave us the chance to be owners and concentrate our attention on the educating our children, and ourselves while we learned English and adapted to our new lives in the states.

I am very proud of where we are. I have had the opportunity to serve as a Spanish Teacher teaching others about the incredible contributions of the Spanish Language and culture to students at Hickory and Career Magnet School. My husband had the Opportunity to graduate from the Upholstery Academy at CVCC. My oldest son Juan Esteban is currently enrolled in the Doctor of Educational Leadership program at Appalachian State University completing his dissertation on the Strengths that Latinx Parents exhibit in educational spaces. My son Alexander gave me the blessing of being the grandmother of a handsome boy who today is 11 years old, Elija Alexander and my youngest son Santiago today is studying International Business as a sophomore at UNC Charlotte.

Thanks to the Hickory Habitat for Humanity Team for giving us the opportunity of homeownership. Your impressive team guided us through the program and welcomed us to our new life in the United States. We are forever indebted for your kindness and support. We extend our gratitude to the boots on the grounds- volunteers for making it happen.

Thank you for a chance to live in a safe, and peaceful environment. Our seeds are blooming. 

Yolima Escobar
Habitat Catawba Valley Homeowner

Villanova Students Set to Return This Spring

Villanova University is set to return this spring for their Service and Justice Experience week with Habitat Catawba Valley. The group of 15 students will be serving with us from March 3-10. While they’re here, they will work on new construction in the Northstone subdivision as well as Habitat Repairs! projects throughout Catawba County.

Habitat Catawba Valley partners with other local organizations, mainly churches, to host Villanova students in the fall and spring. Churches provide meals for the students as well as activities. Not only do we appreciate the support that our local churches provide, our out-of-state volunteers are always so grateful for your hospitality and welcome into the community.

If your church is interested in providing a meal during Villanova’s upcoming service week, click here to sign up.

Be sure to also stay tuned to our Facebook page for photos and updates from our Villanova service week from March 3-10!

Northstone Receives 2nd National Homebuilder Award

 The Housing Innovation Award recognizes forward-thinking builders for “delivering American homebuyers with the home of the future, today.” Each year, winners of this award are selected by a diverse panel of builders, architects and industry professionals for their outstanding accomplishments in designing and building Zero Energy-Ready Homes. The Housing Innovation Award recognizes forward-thinking builders for “delivering American homebuyers with the home of the future, today.” Each year, winners of this award are selected by a diverse panel of builders, architects and industry professionals for their outstanding accomplishments in designing and building Zero Energy-Ready Homes. 

Habitat Catawba Valley began building energy-efficient homes in 2001 and built the first net-zero energy home in the state of North Carolina in 2005, in partnership with Appalachian State University. In 2016, Habitat earned its first DOE Housing Innovation Award for its Zero Energy-Ready Home located in the Northstone Subdivision. 

Habitat will be recognized for its latest achievement at the Housing Innovation Awards Ceremony in October 2017. 

Click here to see our 2016 award-winning home on the DOE Tour of Zero 


Mitsubishi Electric Publishes New Case Study Focusing on Habitat’s Northstone Subdivision

Habitat for Humanity of Catawba Valley (Habitat Catawba), Hickory, North Carolina, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to building affordable housing for low-income families within their local community. In recent years, the organization developed the idea to build an 18-unit community in Northeast Hickory to provide energy-efficient homes for Habitat families and market-rate residential buyers

Click here to view and download the full case study.

Looking For A New Home?

Beautiful Energy Star New Construction

Located in NE Hickory. 3 Bedroom/ 2 Bath one-level home situated on a level corner lot in desirable Catawba County School district. You’ll enjoy plenty of outdoor time on the covered wraparound porch. On the interior, you’ll find high ceilings and lots of windows that let in tons of natural light. Beautiful brand new finishings such as durable vinyl plank flooring throughout, craftsman style doors, light neutral colors, recessed lighting, and dark wood cabinetry. 2×6 wall construction makes this home extremely energy efficient so you’ll be able to enjoy low energy costs. Home also comes with 1 year builder warranty.

Click below to view the listing and to schedule a viewing!

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Fill out the form below to learn more and to schedule a private viewing!

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A Message From the Executive Director: Habitat Repairs! is Working

Recently I rode along with Richard Greathouse for a “scope of work” on a home located a few blocks off LR Blvd in Hickory.  During this kind of visit we’ll meet the homeowner and review the list of requested repairs. In most cases, it’s the original list plus more. It was then that I was reminded how difficult life can be when the most essential element in life, WATER, is missing from a home.

For Sara, water doesn’t come from her faucet, it trickles down the hill though a garden hose attached to her neighbor’s house. She brings the hose inside, fills up 5 gallon buckets stored in her bath tub and uses the water to wash dishes, flush the toilet and water her plants. When she takes a bath, she fills up the hot water heater with the same hose then waits for it to heat before she cleans up. She’s had the same routine since her neighborhood community well broke a year ago. Let me repeat that, 1 year ago.

Today when I shared this story with a former board member, he said “that’s the type of thing you would expect, in Mexico. Not Hickory.”  

Through donations to the Habitat Repairs! campaign and the City of Hickory, Sara will soon have water running to her home. While we’re there we’ll also weatherize the home reducing future power bills and repair the front and back steps.

It’s going to be selfish of me, but I want to be there the first time she turns on the water and fills a glass from her kitchen faucet. Imagine with me the smile on her face when that happens and how that glass of water helped restore a little bit of dignity to her life.

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Mitzi Gellman, Executive Director

Villanova University Spring Service Break Recap

Activities included:

  • Mass at St. Aloysius Catholic Church
  • Hike at Hawksbill Mountain with HFHCV staff
  • Pizza Party hosted by St. Aloysius Catholic Church
  • Evening Service and Dinner at Bethany Lutheran Church
  • Wildcat Welcome hosted by HFHCV at the ReStore
  • Lunch Speakers:
    •    Bobby Boyd, HFHCV Board President
    •    Tina Morgan, HFHCV Homeowner Services Director
    •    Mitzi Gellman, HFHCV Executive Director
    •    Rob Howard, Mitsubishi

Click here to see more photos from Villanova University’s service week.

Thank you to the organizations who helped us provide for our volunteers that week:
St. Aloysius Catholic Church – Host, Sunday Mass & Pizza Party
First Baptist Church of Hickory – Meal
First Presbyterian Church of Newton – Meal
First Presbyterian Church of Hickory – Meal
Bethany Lutheran Church – Evening Service & Dinner
Northminster Presbyterian Church – Meal
First United Methodist Church of Hickory – Meal

If you would like to provide for our future volunteer groups, contact Jenna Cucco at

Businesses Participate in Habitat’s Team Building Program

An affordable and effective team building experience, Habitat Catawba Valley offers this unique opportunity for local businesses and organizations to strengthen their teams and share an experience that will impact the community for years to come.

“I was so impressed by my fellow colleagues,” says Punker, LLC employee Raymond Snipes. “By the end of the day, it was plain to see that together as a team, we can build better than by ourselves.”

Habitat Catawba Valley officials express this is just one of the benefits of participating in their Corporate Team Building program. The day together creates an environment of caring and cooperation among team members as they work to complete their part of a Habitat home. Additionally, it builds a balanced team, increases understanding of co-workers’ ability and builds a sense of community within the company.

Participants spend the day building a home together, starting with a morning orientation and safety overview. Then the team takes part in building activities on the worksite. The day concludes with a facilitated discussion and reflection session.  The registration fee covers up to 15 participants and includes all construction materials for the group, lunch, team t-shirts and a framed certificate of completion.

“I would like to thank Habitat Catawba Valley for allowing Punker, LLC to give back to the community that has done so much for us and allowing us to be included in a small part of this family’s life,” says Ryan Kilkelly, managing director at Punker, LLC. “This day proved to be an excellent team building exercise. We are looking forward to future opportunities to serve again.”

If your business would like to participate in our team building program, contact Jenna Cucco at (828) 328-4663 ext. 315.

Thrivent Financial and Habitat for Humanity of Catawba Valley Partner to Repair Homes

Habitat Repairs! is a program of Habitat for Humanity of Catawba Valley that is designed to address home repair needs of homeowners who are low-income, elderly, or disabled.  Typical repairs include roof repair, accessibility issues like wheelchair ramps, HVAC replacement or repair, weatherization, and other critical needs that affect the family’s well-being.  “Our goals are to keep the families safe, warm, and dry and at the same time provide a better quality of life that allows them to stay in their home without disruption,” added Gellman. It is estimated that there are more than 1,000 homes in Catawba County that need repairs.  Habitat served 40 families in 2016 and its goal is to serve 50 more in 2017.

Local Thrivent Financial Representative Paul R. Henry was instrumental in the partnership. “It’s a high honor to partner with Habitat for Humanity of Catawba Valley through our Thrivent Builds and Thrivent Repairs initiatives. This local Habitat affiliate has faithfully provided affordable housing for 30 years and the opportunity to serve many more families through the Habitat Repairs! Program is very exciting. Habitat Repairs! captures the essence of working with Thrivent. Through good stewardship, opportunities to practice generosity are available and successful repair projects result in happier families and stronger communities. The Habitat Repairs! initiative promotes and facilitates each of these meaningful components.”

Since 2005, Thrivent Financial and Habitat for Humanity have partnered to bridge communities, strengthen neighborhoods and change lives. Within this partnership are three programs: Thrivent Builds Homes, Thrivent Builds Repairs and Thrivent Builds Worldwide. Each aspect of these programs helps us fulfill our mission to build or renovate homes, resulting in improved communities and changed lives.

About Habitat Catawba Valley
Founded in 1985, Habitat for Humanity of Catawba Valley is a non-profit, Christian-based community organization dedicated to building, renovating, and repairing decent and affordable housing in partnership with hard-working, lower-income families in our community.  To get involved with the Habitat mission call 828.328.4663

About Thrivent Financial
Thrivent Financial is a financial services organization that helps Christians be wise with money and live generously. As a membership organization, it offers its more than 2.3 million member-owners a broad range of products, services and guidance from financial representatives nationwide. For more than a century it has helped members make wise money choices that reflect their values while providing them opportunities to demonstrate their generosity where they live, work and worship.

Dear Habitat…

And another:

“Thanks for the wonderful job on the porch and steps.  Looks very good and I don’t have to worry about falling through and the steps caving in.  Excellent work and many thanks to all!

And another from a longtime homeowner:

“The letter I write today is different than all the others in the past because this letter is a letter of success and triumph.  I have now had a full time job for over two months.  After several years of being far behind, it is with exceeding joy that I can tell you that are financially harsh season is finally blooming into spring and leaping into summer.  I am elated!  You have been there from the beginning when I gratefully walked into my home.  You have diligently worked with me even though not all of you have even met me.  I don’t know if I could ever express the gratitude in my heart.  Through it all, the Lord always makes a way.  He is always on time just in time!  Our home is a gift from Him and I have committed to be a good steward over what He has blessed us with.  Thank you for helping me to honor that commitment.”

Villanova Students Gear Up for a Week of Service with Habitat Catawba Valley

During their week-long visit, the students will stay at St. Aloysius Catholic Church in Hickory.  In addition to working on builds and repairs, students will have the opportunity to engage with the local community at church dinners and community gatherings.  Speakers from the community will also be joining us to discuss our community’s needs and Habitat’s mission.  

“We are excited to arrive in Hickory and serve and learn in any way possible,” the group shared.  

Each semester, Villanova University provides opportunities for students, faculty, staff and alumni to serve with people and partner organizations who work every day to improve lives locally, throughout the United States and abroad.  Students are encouraged to engage in service experiences, both locally and globally, so they learn from others, provide public service to the community and help create a more sustainable world.  Over 200 Villanova University students will be participating in service trips this spring.

Opportunity and Self-Reliance

Dana and her five year old daughter, Emma, lived in a small one bedroom apartment in a dangerous section of the community.  The apartment leaked, was cold in the winter and hot in the summer.  Emma wasn’t allowed to go outside because it simply was not safe.  Dana moved from job to job, mostly retail and service, trying to scrape together enough money to get out of the apartment.  Daily life was a struggle to find adequate childcare, pay the rent and utilities, and have at least something that resembled stability in their lives.  She dreamed of a home where Emma could play in the yard and a place for family and friends to come for dinner.  Dana’s dreams were simple, but seemingly out of reach.   

Building strength, stability and self-reliance

A decent and affordable place to live frees families from the physical and mental hardships that plague their lives and places them on a path of new opportunity.  When a family partners with Habitat for Humanity of Catawba Valley, they start down a new path to a better, healthier and more financially stable life.  

Each homeowner works closely with Habitat as they prepare for the various responsibilities of homeownership, including learning about personal finances, mortgage, maintenance and upkeep of homes and much more.  They also perform sweat equity by actively participating in their home build and by helping other partner families with their builds or repairs.   By seizing this opportunity, partner families work towards changing their own futures.  This process prepares them to assume an affordable mortgage once a house is complete. We give those homeowners a path to homeownership that they may have struggled to find through other institutions.

A complete transformation

image 2When a family partners with Habitat, they go through a life-changing process that teaches them new skills, promotes the importance of giving back and prepares them for homeownership.

“Many families are fearful of failure or the loss of a job when they begin the long process.  They are fatigued because they have full-time jobs, children, multiple jobs, school, sweat equity, higher education, etc. When they are able to overcome these issues, the pride that they show is incredible.  Their self-worth, confidence, and dignity is restored. It truly transforms their lives,” says Gail Bowman, Homeowner Services Coordinator at Habitat Catawba Valley.   

Since 1985, Habitat for Humanity of Catawba Valley has partnered with local families to build 168 new homes in Catawba County.

ReStores Across the State Offer Support to Hurricane Matthew Victims

“We all need to rally behind an affiliate that has had that much tragedy,” said Mitch Rhodes, chief operating officer of Habitat for Humanity of Wake County. Wake’s five ReStores—together with Asheville and Charlotte ReStores, and many others across the state including ReStore Catawba Valley—are designating Nov. 17 ReStore sales to benefit Fayetteville’s rebuilding efforts.

The 93 Fayetteville Habitat homes that were swamped by the flooding on Oct. 8 represented more than half of the 154 houses built by the affiliate over the past 30 years.

Greg Kirkpatrick, executive director of Habitat for Humanity N.C. in Raleigh is coordinating the effort to get all 78 ReStores in North Carolina behind the drive to respond to the crisis in Fayetteville’s Habitat village.

“We asked the ReStores to consider doing something we’re calling ReStore Fayetteville,” said Kirkpatrick, who added that the response has been wildly enthusiastic. He hopes that the 78 ReStores across the state can raise as much as $100,000 for Fayetteville.

Many of the flood victims are staying with friends or family; many have had to find rooms to rent. Only 27 of the homeowners had flood insurance.
But Tammy Laurence, director of Habitat’s Fayetteville area affiliate, sees light amid the chaos that has engulfed the homeowners.

“The support from our partner affiliates again reveals the best that Habitat calls out in each of us. Thanks to our Habitat partner affiliates, these funds will help us rebuild homes and restore hope. We are grateful. Hurricane Matthew tore through Fayetteville’s Habitat village leaving broken hearts and broken homes. But the flood cannot quench the great spirit that animates these homeowners and this community. We will rebuild.”

Click here to learn more about the Habitat Catawba Valley ReStore.



Faith & Shelter Summit

Topics ranged from the traditional Habitat new homeownership program to the affiliate’s new efforts in affordable market rate housing. Additionally, Habitat staff presented information for the need for the Habitat Repairs! program which serves low income, elderly or disabled homeowners throughout Catawba County whose homes need repairs to remain inhabitable.

Reverend Whit Malone of First Presbyterian Church of Hickory discussed his early beginnings of establishing a Habitat for Humanity affiliate in Louisville, Kentucky to his current position of serving on the Board of Habitat for Humanity of Catawba Valley.

Jenna Ross with Habitat for Humanity of Catawba Valley presented data on the changing landscape of affordable housing in the community and Habitat’s innovative vision for the future of affordable housing. She also noted housing is more than just houses. “Strong and stable homes build strong and stable families, this in turn builds strong and stable communities,” said Ross.

The Faith and Shelter kicks off the 2018 Apostles’ Build program uniting area congregations with Habitat for Humanity and local citizens in need of housing or repairs. “Church congregants play an integral role in solving the housing crisis that face so many of our neighbors. We felt it was important to explain the housing issues facing local citizens and Habitat’s need to work hand in hand with area churches,” said Mitzi Gellman, Habitat Executive Director.

Habitat for Humanity of Catawba Valley is an ecumenical housing ministry dedicated to building simple, decent, and affordable housing for hard-working, low-income families in Catawba County. For more information or to get involved with the Habitat mission, contact 828-328-4663.

Habitat for Humanity of Catawba Valley Welcomes New Board Members and Officers

William Pleasant and Frances Hilton appointed to three year terms on the board of directors. Both have previously served on the board and have been involved with Habitat for many years. Mr. Pleasant is a Vice President and Assistant General Counsel at CommScope, Inc. Ms. Hilton is a retired business owner and community leader. Also sworn in was Pat Jones for a new three year term as she had completed her first term. Ms. Jones is retired from the healthcare industry.

Pleasant, Hilton, Jones, Boyd, and Elledge were sworn in by outgoing Board President Cliff Moone.

Habitat Staff Make Statewide Presentations

Highlights of the presentations included an overview of Habitat Catawba Valley’s Northstone Subdivision, the market rate program, and the benefits of mixed income neighborhood on individuals, families, and the community.

Quick Facts


  • 22 lots
  • Open space
  • Low to Moderate Income
  • County School District
  • Grocery/shopping
  • Foreclosure Purchase
  • Infrastructure Complete

Tightlines Designs Partnership

  • Curb and gutter
  • Planned community design
  • Upgraded siding – LP Smart Siding
  • Historic color palate
  • Street lights
  • Community commons area (creative use of wet lands!)
  • Picnic shelter, community mailboxes
  • Provide a sense of community – front porch
  • All quality built homes

Energy Efficiency

  • DOE Net Zero Energy Ready Certified
  • DOE Rising Star Energy Innovation Award: Affordable Category
  • Guarantee $30/month heating and cool for first 2 years
  • Energy Star certified
  • Indoor Air Quality plus certified

Impact of Mixed Income Neighborhoods

Studies find kids moving from low income neighborhoods into mixed income neighborhoods experience:

  • 16% higher annual earnings
  • 9% more likely to be employed
  • $45,000 increase in lifetime earnings
  • A tale of 2 miles: Small changes, large gains – most kids in this study moved less than 2 miles

Age makes a bigger impact:

  • 31% increase in earnings if kids moved before becoming a teen
  • $99,000 increase in lifetime earnings if moved before age 8
  • Increased home life stability: when kids move to mixed income neighborhoods, their children are more likely to be raised by two parents, to enjoy higher family incomes and to spend their entire childhood in better neighborhoods

Villanova Students to Lend a Hand to Habitat Catawba Valley

While in Catawba County, the students will be working on both new construction and Habitat Repairs! projects. The group will be hosted by First United Methodist Church of Hickory. In addition to serving on the worksites, the students will also spend time engaging with the local community at church dinners, community gatherings, and local attractions.  Habitat is thankful to local churches and groups that are providing meals to the students.

Habitat is seeking churches or individuals willing to provide a meal for the group while they are here. Please contact Community Outreach Coordinator Jenna Cucco at 828-328-4663. There are also opportunities to volunteer to work with the Villanova students.

Click here if you or your groups are interested in volunteering with the students.



CVMC Promises $200,000 to Home Repair Program

The Habitat Repairs program was a cause Dixon advocated for, and he “believed would change the lives of low-income, disabled and elderly Catawba County homeowners,” J. Anthony Rose, President and CEO of CVMC said via the release.

By working with the hospital, Habitat Repairs will gain firsthand knowledge of home conditions they would previously be unaware of, as well as medical conditions and health issues.

“We realize for the hospital, so much of expenses come from readmissions into the hospital,” Mitzi Gellman said, who is the executive director for Catawba Valley Habitat for Humanity. “Doing a minor repair can help keep costs down.”

Around 10 to 20 percent of residents the program helps are elderly, Gellman estimates.

The program began about two years ago, and one of the goals of the hospital, as well as Habitat Repairs is to keep patients in their homes, while addressing repairs that could help prevent sickness, Gellman said.

Home-related illnesses include asthma patients living in mold-filled homes due to a leaky roof, or patients with COPD lacking air conditioning or heat, according to the release.

“It was at Charlie’s encouragement that we launched Habitat Repairs, and we are only now beginning to scratch the surface of his vision. I believe Charlie would be deeply moved by CVMC’s gift. His compassion and drive has rallied Habitat donors and volunteers to help the many existing homeowners in need of repairs,” Gellman said.

Source: Praats, Michael. “CVMC Promises $200,000 to Home Repair Program.” Hickory Record. 17 January 2017. Web.

Habitat Catawba Valley Wins National Department of Energy Housing Innovation Award

“Housing Innovation Award winners are leaders in the ongoing transformation of the housing industry as they strive to zero energy-ready homes,” said Sam Rashkin, Chief Architect, DOE’s Building Technologies Office. “The level of performance we saw from our awardees underscores the importance of building high-efficiency homes of the future. These homes provide Americans with the ability to save money through reduced or eliminated utility bills, engineered comfort, comprehensive health protection, and overall peace-of-mind they are making a smart investment.”

The 2016 Housing Innovation Award Winners for Innovation in Affordable Homes are:

  • Grand Winner: United Way of Long Island, Deer Park, New York
  • Carl Franklin/Green Extreme Homes, Lewisville, Texas
  • Clifton View Homes (CVH) Inc., Coupeville, Washington
  • Habitat for Humanity of Catawba Valley, Hickory, North Carolina
  • Habitat for Humanity, Grand Traverse Region, Traverse City, Michigan
  • Habitat for Humanity South Sarasota County, Venice, Florida
  • Kalamazoo Valley Habitat for Humanity, Kalamazoo, Michigan
  • Revival Homes, New Hartford, Connecticut
  • Sunroc Builders, Lakeland, Florida

Pictured:  Habitat for Humanity of Catawba Valley Construction Manager Derek Ross accepts the DOE Housing Innovation Award at a recent ceremony in Dallas, Texas.

World Habitat Day Celebrated with Mortgage Burning

 On Monday, Oct. 3, 2016, Habitat for Humanity joins with our partners around the world to rededicate ourselves to recognizing the basic right of everyone to adequate shelter.

Beth Peterson and Audrey Carson have paid their mortgages in full to Habitat and were excited to “light fire” to their mortgage documents, symbolizing the end to their payment obligations.  Beth, who closed on her home in 2001, and Audrey, who closed in 1996, were surrounded by friends and family and both expressed their appreciation for Habitat for Humanity and its volunteers and donors.

As Audrey said, “Thanks a lot for the job you do.  It’s people like you that give others hope to live a dream they’ve always wanted.”

Seven college apartment and dorm room items you can find at Habitat ReStore

1. Furniture

Filling your living space with places to sit, sleep and eat is one of the biggest challenges – and expenses – of living away at college. Habitat ReStore is here to help.

Whether you need a sofa, kitchen table, bed, dresser or all of the above, you’ll find a slew of gently used furniture options at your local Habitat ReStore. Keep in mind that every store has a different inventory that changes daily based on donations from your community. Check back often to find exactly what you need.

2. Kitchen Appliances

In addition to the obvious necessities like utensils, cups and plates, you also may need many other kitchen accessories like a blender, toaster oven and the all-important coffee maker (for late night study sessions). Though these items seem like relatively small purchases, they can add up quickly. Habitat ReStores often carry a variety of kitchen gadgets at great prices!

3. Lighting

Many dorms are equipped with fluorescent lighting, which can prove harsh on the eyes. Pick up a lamp or two from the Habitat ReStore to reduce this harshness and provide your dorm room with a warm glow.

4. Washer and Dryer

If you’re living in an apartment without laundry facilities, you may need a washer and dryer. While this would ordinarily represent a large expense, check to see if your Habitat ReStore has a gently used washing machine and dryer that will save you trips to the laundromat.

5. Storage

Dorm rooms and college apartments aren’t typically known for providing an abundance of space. The wide variety of items at Habitat ReStore give you a chance to creatively make great use of the space you do have available.

For examples and inspiration, check out this article on hacks that will help you get more space out of a small closet. Materials used for the hacks you may find at Habitat ReStore (that you may not immediately think you need for your college dorm room) include pipes, scraps of wood, chains and hooks.

6. Art and Other Decorations

Blank walls provide a great opportunity to turn a generic dorm room or apartment into a space that is uniquely yours. However, purchasing artwork can quickly become expensive. Most ReStores have a large variety of art at great prices. You can even turn some finds into your own art projects to produce your own unique work.

For an example of how you can transform an old painting into something new and unique, take a look at number six on this list of creative DIY ideas and decorating tips for dorms.

7. Materials for DIY Projects

Speaking of creating your own projects, sometimes the best ways to furnish and decorate your new living quarters are by making something altogether new.

The possibilities for this one are nearly endless. See this HGTV article featuring 40 DIY dorm room ideas for inspiration. These ideas use a wide variety of materials you may be able to find at Habitat ReStore, including room dividers, wooden crates, book ends, rope, trunks and brass fittings.

Article courtesty of:

Directors Corner: Hail & Farewell

On July 5th the Hickory community learned of the death beloved attorney and community leader, Charles Dennis Dixon. When I learned of his death, this poem came to mind, with a simplistic, solemn mourning of a friend’s passing.

I first met Charlie years ago at 1st Presbyterian Church in Hickory where he had an active role as an elder on the session and chair of numerous committees. Where I got to know him was on the Habitat job site as he helped roof a shed and later pray with a new homeowner at a dedication. Last summer he helped with the construction of the first Apostle’s House in Habitat’s Northstone community. He was the “assistant to the saw man” working hard throughout the hot, muggy morning.

It was at Charlie’s coaching that Habitat for Humanity of Catawba Valley has launched Habitat Repairs!, a home repairs program for low income, disabled and elderly homeowners throughout Catawba County. His vision of Habitat doing “something big” to celebrate the affiliate’s 30th year evolved into the “fix-up program” as he called it. Charlie was passionate about rallying Habitat donors and volunteers to help the many existing homeowners in need of repairs.

The campaign’s tag line: “We’re Fixin’ to Help” is a nod and a wink to Charlie’s dedication to launching this new mission.

In February a few days before Charlie suffered a stroke, he called me late on a Friday afternoon with “a couple ideas about this campaign that I want to run by you.” Over the last year, Charlie and I had many, many conversations where he gave me ideas, and I kept notes. But that day as we ended the call, I thought to myself, I hope he will be around throughout the campaign. He was a joy, a challenge and the best person I can imagine to have on your side.

Hail and Farewell Charlie. I salute you…and good bye.

By Mitzi Gellman, Executive Director

Habitat Catawba Valley to Participate in National Women Build Week from May 6-14

More than 17,000 women, including Lowe’s Heroes volunteers, are expected to volunteer at construction sites across the country as part of Habitat’s 2017 National Women Build Week.

According to Jenna Cucco, “Women Build is an opportunity for the Habitat community to come together and celebrate the strength of women in our lives, our communities, and around the world, as well as to advocate for – in the words of Pablo Casals – a world more worthy of its daughters. Not only does NWBW showcase the place of women in construction, a traditionally male field, it also witnesses to the influence women have in their own communities to work for affordable housing and to pursue a love that does justice for all our neighbors.”

In Habitat’s Northstone neighborhood, volunteers will begin exterior framing on a new home and push to complete the interior work on 2 homes already under way.
Lowe’s helped launch National Women Build Week in 2008 to empower women to advocate for affordable housing and spotlight the homeownership challenges faced by many. Each year, Lowe’s provides the support of their employee volunteers, Lowe’s Heroes, and conducts how-to clinics at stores to teach volunteers construction skills so they can feel equipped to take part in the builds. Lowe’s Heroes will be among more than 50 volunteers joining to help build decent, affordable housing in the Hickory area as part of National Women Build Week.

“Through our partnership with Habitat and support of National Women Build Week, Lowe’s empowers women to get involved in their communities, learn construction skills and make a meaningful impact,” said James Frison, Lowe’s director of community relations. “We’re grateful to all the women in Catawba County who will volunteer this week to help build and repair decent and affordable housing.”

Lowe’s donated nearly $2 million to this year’s National Women Build Week, including a $5,000 store gift card to Habitat Catawba Valley. Since 2003, Lowe’s has committed more than $63 million to Habitat’s mission and helped more than 6,500 families improve their living conditions.

Habitat’s first Women Build event was held in 1998. Since then, all-women construction crews have helped build more than 2,500 homes in partnership with families.

To join the movement, register here. If you are interested in bringing a team from your business or organization, contact to set up a private group reservation.

We all need decent shelter to thrive.  And with a little help, we all have the potential to stand on our own.  With your help, Habitat homeowners achieve the strength, stability, and self-reliance they need to build a better life for themselves and their families.

Old Becomes New: Renovations Taking Place on the Old Ridgeview Library

Gellman stated that Habitat wanted to be involved with the old Ridgeview library to be able to bring the community closer to having this historical landmark rehabilitated.

An architecture firm was used, and Habitat brought in skilled volunteer labor to finish the inside, after the outside was completed. Jessie Barber, an AmeriCorps Volunteer, and Derek Ross, the Habitat Construction Supervisor, have been involved in this project, as well as four to five volunteers at any given time, working on the library rehabilitation. By Habitat being involved in this project, this saved Interfaith Housing $15,000 to $20,000. The outside rehabilitation of the library was handled by Moss Marlow Construction.

“The volunteers have really enjoyed it. It’s been a challenge for them,” Gellman said. “There’s trust in the work of Habitat’s volunteers to do this. I am proud for Habitat to be involved and the volunteers are honored to do this project.”

Gellman added, “We have roughly two and a half months of total time invested in restoring the library.” Habitat hopes to be done with the inside of the building by this summer.

Explaining the project details, Gellman said that the inside of the building has definitely changed. “We did a complete gut of the inside,” she said. “We added a handicap accessible bathroom to replace the old bathroom, a small office with a kitchen area, and covered up areas where there used to be stairs.” Gellman expressed that the priority to try to keep the pine paneling, so it was removed, stacked, stored, and reused. They are rebuilding the bookshelves and reusing the paneling. Habitat did whatever they could do to help preserve the history of the building. This new building will also be able to display artifacts and trophies from Ridgeview High School.

“This is one of those projects where you’re honored to be a part of it. There is a connection for people that grew up and lived in Ridgeview. This library is important to people. People grew up there, that’s the place they went. We wanted to make sure we preserved things the way people remembered them,” Gellman explained. “Additionally, we are so grateful for the City’s support. It was a great way for us to pay back for the City’s help.”

Gellman’s approach; pay it forward. She closed the interview saying, “Seldom do you have a chance to work on something where you get to pay it back and pay it forward on the same project.”

Last year, the City received a state Historic Preservation Grant with money from federal Historic Preservation funds to assist with the exterior rehabilitation. The total grant was $9,000. Additional matching funds of $12,150 were provided by Interfaith Housing and City of Hickory Community Development Block Grant funds. A $20,000 loan with an additional $30,000 grant of Community Development Block Grant Funds was provided to Interfaith Housing for the library rehabilitation. The CDBG funds will be used to purchase building materials, and complete the plumbing, mechanical and electrical work necessary to complete this project. Additionally, the City built a parking lot next door to the library.

NASCAR Driver Lends a Hand

Community volunteers, Thrivent Financial representative Paul Henry and McDowell and his racing team came together yesterday to install an accessible ramp and conduct exterior repair, landscaping and painting.

Thrivent Financial is a sponsor of McDowell’s race team, Leavine Family Racing, which fields the No. 95 Ford in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

“I’ve heard a lot about the Thrivent Builds program and I’m excited to finally be able to work alongside Thrivent Financial members and other volunteers to help a homeowner in need of safe, decent, affordable housing,” said McDowell. “The Thrivent Builds partnership between Thrivent Financial and Habitat is a great example of living generously and our race team is proud to be a part of that.”

Thrivent Builds Repairs upgrades existing homes through projects like installing accessibility ramps, exterior painting, weatherization, porch repair or light landscaping. The program is part of an ongoing partnership between Thrivent Financial and Habitat for Humanity International, called Thrivent Builds with Habitat for Humanity. From the national partnership’s inception in 2005, Thrivent Financial and its members have now committed more than $213 million and more than 4.4 million volunteer hours.

Thrivent Financial’s relationship with Habitat for Humanity brings the financial, volunteer and advocacy resources of Thrivent Financial together with the affordable housing construction leadership of hundreds of local Habitat affiliates. Paul Henry, a financial representative with Thrivent Financial, said, “This program provides us with more options to serve our community. Upgrading existing homes not only makes the homes safer and more efficient, it also cultivates community pride.”

“The Thrivent Builds partnership is helping Habitat for Humanity of Catawba Valley increase the number of families served in our community by helping home owners stay in their homes,” said Scott Loudermelt, Director of Development. “We are so grateful for Thrivent’s support of our efforts to build homes and repair homes in partnership with families in need of decent and affordable housing, and we’re excited to involve Michael McDowell and Leavine Family Racing in this project.”

Article courtesy of Circle Sport Leavine Family Racing

Circle Sport Leavine Family Racing

Habitat Catawba Valley Celebrates 30th Year of Service

Self-help and community engagement are key components of the work done by Habitat. Through engaging families as “partners”, Habitat seeks to build not only homes with families, but hope for a better life. Thousands of volunteer hours are utilized each year to deliver the services provided. Churches, businesses, civic organizations, and individuals seeking to help their neighbors, assist in delivery of Habitat’s mission. From hammering on a construction site to working at the ReStore or serving on the board of directors or a committee, much of Habitat’s success can be attributed to the work of its volunteers.

“We are extraordinarily proud of what has been accomplished,” said Mitzi Gellman, Habitat Executive Director. “But we are also aware that there are still many people in our community that need a helping hand.”

In the next year, Habitat will spotlight its mission, the people served, the many ways to get involved with Habitat, and expand its program to serve more families. One of the first goals for the affiliate includes construction of homes in the Northstone subdivision in Hickory.

Habitat purchased the subdivision more than 3 years ago and has recently finalized plans for the new community. “Northstone will include 18 homes and open green space areas for play,” said Gellman.

Construction on the first home begins in June with a 3-bedroom home that will be constructed by Church of the Ascension and Holy Trinity and in memory of one of Habitat Catawba Valley’s founders, Ed Rogers. In July a second home will begin with funds and volunteers from Thrivent Financial and 13 area churches.

Northstone will also be the first Habitat neighborhood that will include homes sold on the open market to traditional homebuyers. These “market rate” homes will be 3 bedroom, 2 bath with approximately 1,500 sq./ft. Homes will be available for sale before the end of the year.

“Income restrictions for Habitat homeowners are very strict. Often only 1 or 2% of income separates a family from becoming a homeowner,” explained Gellman. “For the family earning over the Habitat income guidelines, there are very few homes for sale in their price range, and none that are built as energy efficient as Habitat homes. These homes in Northstone will provide safe, simple and decent housing for more people,” added Gellman.

Additionally Habitat expanding its services to include a repair ministry designed to keep homeowners in their own homes. Initially repairs may be limited to exterior renovations: leaky roofs, broken stairs, handicap ramp construction and broken windows. The need for repairs is great.

“The need for a repair ministry is unbelievable,” said Gellman. “There are hundreds of homes in Hickory and many more in Catawba County. What starts as a little deterioration and a $200 repair can quickly turn into a $2,000 demolition, with a family searching for affordable housing.”

The repair ministry will be in addition to Habitat’s new home construction program. “It will be like starting a new business within Habitat,” said Gellman. To be fully operational the nonprofit organization will need start-up funds for the purchase of construction equipment, a truck and trailer and possible staffing and volunteers skilled in repairs. Estimated start-up costs for the repairs program are $200,000.

“We are seeking gifts from individuals, business, charitable foundations and churches for this new ministry,” said Gellman. While new to this Habitat affiliate, other Habitat organizations have successfully launched a community-wide repairs program. “We wanted to create a repairs program years ago, but the downturn in the economy prevented us from fully funding this additional department,” said Gellman. “The financial climate is improving and this is a good time for the affiliate to expand.”

Partnering with Habitat is Thrivent Financial through its Thrivent repairs program. The program is part of an ongoing partnership between Thrivent Financial and Habitat for Humanity International, called Thrivent Builds with Habitat for Humanity. From the national partnership’s inception in 2005, Thrivent Financial and its members have now committed more than $213 million and more than 4.4 million volunteer hours. Under this program Thrivent Financial will provide $2,500 for each repair project with 10 repairs projected for this year.

Thrivent Financial contribution is part of their on-going support of affordable housing. Paul Henry, a financial representative with Thrivent Financial, said, “This program provides us with more options to serve our community. Upgrading existing homes not only makes the homes safer and more efficient, it also cultivates community pride.”

As the leadership of Habitat looks toward the future there is also the possible expansion into affordable rental units for families not yet ready for homeownership.

“As we began to explore gaps in services to the community through our strategic planning process, it became clear that a need was safe, decent and affordable rental units. While we still believe home ownership is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty, some families need time to rehabilitate their credit scores and reestablish their employment.” said Gellman.

While still in the early stages, Habitat’s plan would be to acquire and renovate single family homes and multi-unit apartment buildings and offer them for rent to families who are working toward homeownership. “While this is new territory for us, we know this is a service that people need. Every business evolves over time and Habitat is no different, “added Gellman.

The 30th anniversary celebration will also include new opportunities for the faith community to get reengaged with the Habitat mission. Instead of holding its traditional Faith Build Week, Habitat invites churches to intentionally join them in a year of prayer, discipleship, and action in support of affordable housing. The year will include special Faith Build construction events, advocacy opportunities, gatherings, and reflections throughout the year, and will culminate in September, the month which includes both the Habitat’s 30th birthday and the International Day of Prayer and Action.

“This will be a busy year for us,” said Gellman who has recently celebrated her 20th year as Executive Director of Habitat. “Our mission and services are profoundly important not only to our families, but to our community. It is time to once again create excitement about who we are and what we do.”