Habitat Honors Its Helpers Over 250 Volunteered During Year

RUSS ORRISON (center) is presented with the Golden Hammer Award by Lynne Johnson, Rockbridge Area Habitat executive director; and Stan Ponce, chair.

RUSS ORRISON (center) is presented with the Golden Hammer Award by Lynne Johnson, Rockbridge Area Habitat executive director; and Stan Ponce, chair.

STEVE NEAS is presented with the Golden Hammer Award by Stan Ponce, chair of the Rockbridge Area Habitat for Humanity board; and Lynne Johnson, executive director.

STEVE NEAS is presented with the Golden Hammer Award by Stan Ponce, chair of the Rockbridge Area Habitat for Humanity board; and Lynne Johnson, executive director.

Two area residents were honored with Golden Hammer awards during Rockbridge Area Habitat for Humanity’s annual meeting Nov. 12 in Brady Chapel at Lexington Presbyterian Church.

The awards, Rockbridge Area Habitat’s highest honor, were presented to Russ Orrison and former board chair Steve Neas for their equally significant positive impact on RAHfH’s work and its mission.

Helping Hand Awards, meanwhile, were given to volunteers and others who made notable contributions to Habitat during the past fiscal year. Recipients included Cindy Rogers, Jake Burks, Shawn Hamric, Tamara Duvall, Ben Peeples, James Ricks, William Baya, Kay Lera, Ami Shank, Jackie Calhoun and Peggy Riethmiller.

In FY 18-19, an average of 254 volunteers worked a total of 17,783 hours for the year. Volunteers served on the board, committees, at ReStores, the build site, and performed home repairs. The estimated value of volunteer time in 2018 was $24.69 an hour, making the value of volunteer labor donated to RAHfH $439,062.

The officers for the new year were also announced: Stan Ponce, chair; Joanne Peretti, vice chair; Paul Gordon, treasurer; Russ Orrison, member-at-large; and Patrick McGuire, secretary.

Executive Director Lynne Johnson took the opportunity to speak on the many changes at Rockbridge Habitat in 2018-2019.

“It was a year of change … But, as always volunteers, donors, community partners, board members and staff stayed the course in our mission to eliminate poverty by building and repairing homes for low-income families and showing up every day,” she said.

Director of Community Relations Zanetta Ford-Byrd, commented on the strong and positive support of the community. “The community support strengthens our operations and enables us to deliver our services more effectively and ultimately helps sustain our mission. We are so grateful for the volunteers and donors who contribute to the economic stability and mobility of our organization.”

Habitat closed on two homes in 2018-19 and one homeowner paid off their loan that year. Recent Habitat homebuyer Viridiana Martinez spoke about her experience partnering with Rockbridge Area Habitat to build a home for her family and expressed gratitude for the opportunity to create a brighter future for her son, Ezequiel.

All approved homebuyers are required to take RAHfH’s 27-hour Homebuyer Education Class. A section of the class, Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, is also open to the public. It is team taught by program administrator Donna Tyree, and Lexington ReStore manager and Habitat homeowner Jane Ann Wells. The classes provide in-depth information about budgeting, home maintenance and landscaping, mortgages, insurance, end-of-life planning, and more. Local experts volunteer as guest speakers to enhance the curriculum.

The News-Gazette

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