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Affiliate News

Almost Heaven Habitat for Humanity

Our service to Greenbrier County continued to expand this summer with the construction of two Blitz Build houses-Greenbrier County's first ever!-co-sponsored by Christian Community Presbyterian Church in Maryland, at our Summer Elms development in White Sulphur Springs. We hope to finish the houses by December 1 of this year, right on time for the families-an army reservist and her son, and a grandmother of three-to move in for the holidays. The foundations for two new houses have recently been dug as well, with wall-raisings slated for the spring!

Our work camp season closed with two Blitz Builds in Pendleton County! Work camps are traditionally the way we have accomplished our work, but we are trying to grow our volunteer program in all counties by encouraging our local residents to volunteer. We are creating a variety of opportunities for local volunteers to participate; hosting Saturday Workdays, participating in the Governor's Day to Serve, and holding a special Black Friday Build. For Black Friday, the doors will open at 6 AM and volunteers can "rush" the house in search of gift cards to local businesses! We are encouraging them to spend their time, not their money! We will also be holding a special build with the Navy servicemen in Sugar Grove and a Veteran's Day build to give back to our veterans.

Four new AmeriCorps members have joined our staff, helping us better accomplish our volunteer coordination, resource development, and construction goals.

Repair requests are quite literally coming out of the woodwork at Almost Heaven Habitat for Humanity. Take, for example, the elderly woman near Durbin who has hung her swing back up on her new porch because there is no longer the danger of falling through the old porch floor, or the gentleman near Marlinton with a physical disability who can safely traverse in and out of his house due to a new ramp, or the elderly woman near Huntersville who can rest peacefully because of a new roof to keep her dry. These have been accomplished in just two months; wow! Thank you, volunteers, for making it happen. However, the needs continue to come, like the veteran near Rupert who is living in the home he grew up in and the bathroom floor is rotting out, the elderly couple in Hillsboro who need a walk in shower because their bath tub is no longer accessible, the elderly woman in Marlinton who needs a new roof, or the family with glass broken in every window of their house. These are just a few of the requests we have received in the last few months and they include all three counties of our affiliate: Greenbrier, Pendleton, and Pocahontas. We will continue to work on repairs throughout the fall and winter so please call and let us know when you can help!

The Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative is growing in the community of Durbin with the purchase of property that contained a condemned old house. Coalfield Development Corporation, in cooperation with WV Sustainable Communities, was able to teach deconstruction techniques to participants as the house came down piece by piece. The decaying house is no longer a danger in the community and the pieces of it will be repurposed and live on! We plan to construct three houses on these lots next summer to grow the Durbin community. The Tuckahoe area in White Sulphur Springs, Greenbrier County, is also increasing in population as homes are built on our Summer Elms property. We will be conducting neighborhood surveys in these areas. The results of these surveys will help to pinpoint strengths and weaknesses in these communities and then partnerships can be formed to empower the residents as they resolve issues or celebrate their successes.

Bobby and Nicole Hall renewed their marriage vows at their house dedication ceremony in July; the bride wore a hard hat and walked down an aisle lined with caution tape-an AHHFH first!

River Bend Gardens has one building still under construction, and all units are filled except for the model. Gene, who is currently living in his truck, will move into his new townhome in October. Phyllis and Johnnie, who is a WWII veteran, will move into their home around November. We have five families who are halfway through the fall Financial Peace University classes in their process of becoming homeowners!

Groups of up to 20 volunteers can now be hosted at the old railroad "Bunkhouse" in Durbin. Over the course of the summer, volunteer groups built bunk beds, painted, jack hammered through 8 inches of concrete to install drains for new showers, laid tile, installed windows, poured a concrete patio and ramp, landscaped, and cleaned in order to make this a reality. It is now a place where small groups can come and experience the quietness of living in a small community (except when the train whistle blows from the Durbin and Greenbrier Valley Railroad tourist train). Come out and play with us!

Following the success of Almost Heaven Habitat for Humanity's 2011 Women Build at the home of Laura Blevins and her four children, Almost Heaven Habitat for Humanity was proud to participate in 2012's National Women Build Week to empower women in the community to get out and build it. We were honored to have a large turn-out from our local Lowe's affiliate in Lewisburg (Lowe's is the national sponsor of Women Build), who sent nearly 15 female employees to come out and play! Melinda Fox, head cashier at Lowe's of Lewisburg, had this to say about participating in this year's National Women Build Week:

"I think it's a good opportunity for women to get in from the ground up. A lot of women really don't know a lot about building. This gives us the opportunity to learn. When you walk on a job site all you see are men. Women Build just goes to show that women can do it to."

Almost Heaven Habitat for Humanity will be participating in National Women Build Week in 2013, too! Stay tuned for updates about where and when we're building!

Camp Wood, an old Civilian Conservation Corp Camp in the Monongahela National Forest near White Sulphur Springs, will be renovated into a new volunteer center for Greenbrier and Pocahontas County work camp volunteers thanks to a special use permit from the National Forest Service and help from our friends at WVU's Design Department. About thirty interior design students recently boarded a bus for the five hour from Morgantown to tour Camp Wood and participate in a Green Building Charette to generate ideas for the renovation of Camp Wood. We are very excited to be collaborating with WVU and the National Forest Service on this project! The design of the new volunteer center will respect the historical roots of Camp Wood, while incorporating innovative ideas for group living.

We hope to be housing volunteer groups at Camp Wood by 2014.

For more information on how to get involved and HELP BUILD IT through donating and voluntering, or if you are interested in becoming a partner family, Please contact our office:

Michelle Connor, Executive Director
PO BOX 913
Franklin, WV 26807

ReStore Information:
37 East Main Street
White Sulphur Springs, WV 24986

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