If you’re starting to think Habitat for Humanity of York County is establishing a more visible presence in Fort Mill you would not be wrong. Although vehicles with the Habitat for Humanity logo are not quite ubiquitous, they certainly are not an uncommon site in town, particularly in the Paradise community.
It’s been several years now since Habitat for Humanity started volunteering in the community – not building new houses, for which the organization is best known – but helping existing homeowners in need with a variety of important repairs. Volunteers have repaired roofs, walls, plumbing and more for low-income residents, mostly senior citizens. For some residents, even aesthetic improvements such as exterior or interior paint jobs are beyond their means physically and/or financially and Habitat for Humanity helps with those, too.
Just last week Habitat for Humanity of York County teamed up with Keller Williams Realty in a Partner in Paradise Red Day of Service. The “Red” in that phrase stands for Renew, Energize and Donate and is an annual public contribution by the real estate agency. More than 100 Realtors completed 25 home repair projects in Paradise and five more in western York County and started building four homes in Rock Hill and three in Clover.
That’s not all.
In late April, Habitat for Humanity and Lowe’s Home Improvement presented a program, also held in Paradise, that was part of National Women Build Week. The week-long event kicked off with how-to clinics designed to teach construction skills to women with little or no knowledge of the tools and materials used in the building trades. The program included volunteer service similar to the work Habitat for Humanity has been involved with in Fort Mill and elsewhere.
These types of partnerships between businesses and nonprofit organizations not only help inspire a spirit of volunteerism among residents, but make a real difference in improving quality of life for people who can use it. Although some public programs help homeowners in need, they are chronically underfunded and even if they were fully funded, gaps would still exist. Rehabilitating property that has fallen into disrepair brings a escalating benefits, not the least of which is boosting the homeowner’s self esteem. Financially speaking, restoring a home also restores its value and an owner with a greater equity stake is literally more invested in his or her community.
We applaud Habitat for Humanity of York County and its business partners Lowe’s and Keller Williams Realty for making a tangible difference in our town and we encourage anyone with free time looking to do good themselves to consider volunteering.
Certainly, there’s more work to be done. We would love to see Habitat for Humanity branch into other lower-income communities in Fort Mill that could use the assistance. It would also be spectacular if Habitat for Humanity built some starter homes for low and moderate income individuals and families in Fort Mill, where most new construction the past few years has been aimed at affluent and upper middle income people.
And we have another idea: It would be great to see one of our local auto repair companies follow the Lowe’s model and teach women – as well as men – basic auto maintenance and repair skills. Everyone who owns a car should know how to change the oil and spark plugs, but this goes beyond the basics. Like low-income homeowners, the more car owners with moderate means can do for themselves, the better off they will become. There is no doubt some people put off an oil change because of the cost of taking it to a garage, but a do-it-yourselfer can do it for much less and while they’re at it, extend the lives of their autos.
For those who depend on autos that need serious repairs, a team of volunteers similar to Habitat for Humanity could literally be life-savers. We even have someone in mind to lead the way: Fort Mill’s own LeeAnn “The Car Chick” Shattuck, co-owner of Women’s Automotive Solutions, is an expert on all things auto, a TV and radio host, competitive driver, mechanic and educator. She would be the perfect face of a new volunteer organization to do for car owners what Habitat for Humanity does for homeowners and those in need of a home. It’s easy to imagine local mechanics joining her to help provide what would be a vital service.
If not Shattuck, any qualified individual who wants to help improve the lives of others in town could spearhead the effort. In the meantime, at least Habitat for Humanity is making a difference and for that we can all be grateful.
To learn more about Habitat for Humanity of York County, donate or volunteer, go to yorkcountyhabitat.org.