A Look at Jackson County’s Habitat for Humanity

(Editor’s Note: The following is the fourth article in an ongoing series of articles that look at where students can and are volunteering their time.)

Jackson County Habitat for Humanity, Inc. is a non-profit ministry. Their mission is to build simple, decent houses with community volunteers. They are in partnership with qualified families currently living in insufficient housing.

Jackson County Habitat for Humanity (JCHFH) was incorporated in 1995. Today the state of North Carolina includes 87 branches. So far, JCHFH has completed 7 houses and 1 house is currently under construction on Cullowhee Mountain Road. Anyone who is 18 years of age or older may apply for a JCHFH home. Habitat homeowners pay back the cost of their house through a no-profit and no-interest loan.

Individuals, businesses, the faith community, civic organizations, foundations and the Habitat ReStore all come together to fund and build the Habitat For Humanity houses. Mortgage payments from Habitat homeowners are recycled into the funding of additional Habitat houses.

Volunteers are the center of Jackson County Habitat for Humanity. Over 1,900 people volunteer with the organization each year. Jackson County Habitat has a variety of volunteer opportunities. Also, one would have an opportunity to learn new skills and meet a variety of people.

“We currently have four volunteers,” said Executive Supervisor of the Jackson County branch, Mike Brown. According to Brown, volunteers include a few Western Carolina University student organizations, athletic teams, as well as Greek organizations.
Anyone over the age of 16 can volunteer with JCHFH. No previous construction experience is required. Volunteer opportunities are available at the construction site, ReStore, or in the administrative offices. At a construction site a volunteer may get involved in a variety of tasks. These include framing, painting, or installing shingles, windows, siding, cabinets or trim.

Another way to volunteer includes working with the deconstruction team. This team of Habitat staff and volunteers work with builders, developers, and homeowners to salvage reusable building materials from structures prior to demolition or remodeling. Building materials and supplies removed from buildings are then sold to the general public in the Habitat ReStore.

The Jackson County ReStore is located at 377 Jackson Plaza in Sylva, NC 28779. The store is open Monday through Friday from 12pm – 5pm and on Saturday from 10am – 3pm and provides many other ways to volunteer to help maintain the store. Such ways include ringing up the sales and bagging the merchandise, stocking the shelves and helping the customers.

Many office volunteer positions exist. For instance, the volunteer store manager’s job is to supervise the daily operations of the store. The manager is available to help customers and volunteers.

Other office volunteer positions may be available if you have skills in any of the following areas: language specialists (translate/interpret), graphic art, music, family support, or special projects.

“Habitat is a win-win situation,” said a Jackson County Habitat volunteer. “The volunteers are rewarded by productive service, the houses get built, the homeowners provide sweat equity, and everybody wins.”

Those interested in volunteering can inquire at the ReStore Store or the construction site. Habitat for Humanity provides a great team building opportunity since they welcome groups from businesses, churches, schools and other organizations. ?

All potential volunteers are asked to attend a volunteer orientation prior to working with the organization. If you are interested in volunteering, please register for the one-hour Volunteer Orientation. You can call our office at 828-586-1232 or send an email to Mike Brown.

Please contact Missy Harris, Volunteer Manager, to discuss an opportunity for a group volunteer project. (828) 251-5702 or mharris@ashevillehabitat.org