Catamounts help bring Habitat for Humanity back to Jackson County

With the help of some dedicated Western Carolina University faculty and students, Habitat for Humanity will return to Jackson County.

Among those working to bring Habitat for Humanity back is Director for WCU’s Center for Service Learning Lane Perry. Perry said he had been involved with the effort to bring the program back since the beginning of the year. The Center for Service Learning had previously been involved with various building activities in both Jackson County and the surrounding areas. A campus chapter has also been established.

Habitat for Humanity campus chapters are student-led and found on both high school and college campuses. According to Habitat for Humanity’s website, Appalachian State University and East Carolina University are among several other campus chapters in North Carolina.

“I want to see students take on the leadership of the Collegiate Affiliated Chapter,” said Perry. “I want to see volunteers from across campus and across disciplines engaging with habitat projects, and I would really like to see a Restore (resale store) established in Jackson County, near the University.”

The Center for Service Learning will continue to work with Habitat throughout the year. Perry said Habitat “build days” will be incorporated in the 2013-2014 academic year’s Days of Services. He noted that the Center will also work directly with the campus chapter to support them.

Associate professor of entrepreneurship Bill Richmond has also helped to bring back a local Habitat. He began working with the effort toward the end of the fall 2012 semester.

“I talked with Lane and Jennifer [Cooper] to see if they had a client for my ENT 475 – Entrepreneurial Consulting class. They did. It was Habitat for Humanity,” recalled Richmond.

“I knew Dr. Bill Richmond was teaching an upper-level entrepreneurship course for the spring and saw an instant connection between the needs of Habitat for Humanity (Macon) and the resources and expertise of Dr. Richmond and his students. It truly was one of those matches that worked… and worked very well,” said Perry.

Richmond led a team of students working with Habitat for the spring 2013 semester. The team created a business plan for a Jackson County Restore (resale store) and put together the application for WCU’s campus chapter, said Richmond. By the time students were ready for summer, Richmond had agreed to become the chapter’s faculty adviser.

Some of the goals Richmond hopes to see with the new Habitat are more student involvement with Habitat projects in the area. Both Richmond and Perry agreed that they would like to see the Restore at least partially staffed and started by students. Richmond suggested this could even be paired with courses. He also brought up the idea of having an event each semester where students could buy items for their living spaces at the start of each semester and sell them when they move out. At the end of the day, both men agreed that they would like to see the campus chapter of Habitat for Humanity blossom on campus, encouraging Catamounts to stand up and make a difference in their community.

Anyone interested in joining the campus chapter of Habitat for Humanity should contact Bill Richmond at