For more than four years, grocery shoppers have helped to support the build activities of Athens Women Raise the Roof every time they use their Kroger Gift Card to purchase groceries. The 5 percent of people's Kroger bill has been a terrific, passive fund-raising tool for WRTR.
In 1999, two women from Athens developed a novel concept: to get women in Athens working together for a common cause. That was the birth of Athens Women Raise the Roof, a coalition of the Athens County Habitat for Humanity affiliate.
Since that time, the WRTR women have built four houses (located in Glouster and Nelsonville) and are working on the fifth (located in Albany). In addition to building, the women have the responsibility of raising funds for the costs of materials and supplies.
In 1984, former President Jimmy Carter donated one day of his carpentry skills on a Habitat work site in Americus, Ga. Thus was born the annual Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project (JRCWP). In the ensuing 24 years, 23 projects have been completed in locations as diverse as Eagle Butte, S.D.; New York City; Manila, Philippines; and Lonavala, India.
Today the annual project has become an internationally recognized event of Habitat for Humanity International. It draws thousands of volunteers to build homes and raises awareness of the critical need for affordable housing all over the globe.
Along with NFL quarterback Kurt Warner and his wife, Brenda, 10 members and staff from Ohio AmeriCorp will join more than 500 Habitat for Humanity AmeriCorps, AmeriCorps VISTA members and alumni to help build 20 Habitat for Humanity houses this summer.
The group will travel to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, June 14-20 as part of the annual Habitat for Humanity AmeriCorps Build-a-Thon. The houses will be built in partnership with families affected by the floods that devastated much of Iowa in 2008.
I'm sitting across the desk from Greg Ross, director of the Athens County Habitat for Humanity, watching his animated face and bright eyes dance as he talks about the latest Habitat project currently underway.
"śWe don't give handouts, we give a hand up," he says emphatically. It is obvious from watching him that he is passionate about the services Habitat for Humanity provides to the Athens community.
"śOur mission is to get families out of substandard housing," he continues. "śFamilies who make 30 to 60 percent of the median income of Athens County qualify."
And the latest housing mission of Habitat is for Darrick and Ashley Wires of Albany. Married for eight years, Darrick, 34 and Ashley, 26, along with their three young daughters "“ Kelly, Joy and Katie "“ have been living in a 30-year-old trailer on Darrick's parents property for most of their married life.