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Community Spotlight: Central Valley Habitat for Humanity

Central Valley Habitat for Humanity is giving people a hand up to help build better lives.
Published: Mar. 14, 2022 at 12:28 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Central Valley Habitat for Humanity works from the ground up to help build safe and affordable homes for local families struggling to make ends meet.

“These are families that are part of the ALICE population. They’re the Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed. They’re the people that you’ll see them everyday, but you may not realize that they’re struggling financially,” Kirsten Pittman, Community Outreach Coordinator for Central Valley Habitat for Humanity said. “In many cases, they’re living in housing that’s just not safe, it’s substandard, it’s unaffordable. In many cases, they’re paying more than 50% of their monthly income on rent.”

She added that if these families did have their own, affordable home, they would be able to improve their financial and mental health and improve the health of their children.

The organization has served around 76 families in the Harrisonburg-Rockingham County area, either by building them a home or helping with home repairs. It’s work that Habitat for Humanity looks at as giving them a hand up.

“We don’t call it a hand out because they do just as much work on their home as we do, and they put a lot of hard work into it,” Pittman said.

Since starting in 1988, Central Valley Habitat for Humanity said the need for safe and affordable housing has grown exponentially.

“As costs increase, and as inflation goes up, we see these families struggling more and more. So, we’re trying to build more, build more capacity and be able to help as many families as we can,” Pittman said.

Right now, that means Habitat is building five to six homes a year. While it is hard work, the outcome is priceless.

“Seeing the way that they smile when they first walk into their homes, seeing the kids run around and say, ‘oh my gosh! This is my bedroom!’ or ‘oh my gosh! I don’t have to share a bedroom with my sister,’ or something like that. They have room for things like bookshelves for the first time ever,” Pittman said.

Central Valley Habitat for Humanity is currently working on two projects along Virginia Avenue in Harrisonburg. The organization is getting ready to start a new build at Cobblestone in Rockingham County, near the landfill.

Aside from grants and donations, The Habitat for Humanity ReStore is one way the organization will able to continue funding these projects and build more houses faster.

“Every day of the week the Restore is open, we have tons of shoppers in there supporting us and donating to Habitat along with their purchases,” Pittman said. “And these people are making it possible for families in their community to have a home that they need.”

The ReStore is located in Harrisonburg in the Dukes Plaza. Its soft opening was in January, but there will be a big celebration for its grand opening April 23.

“We’re kind of partnering off Earth Day because part of the ReStore is not just funding Habitat, it’s diverting items from the waste stream that would have otherwise gone into the trash,” Pittman said.

Habitat will be partnering with Earth Day Everyday, Oasis Art Gallery and local music teachers to host several Earth Day-related activities.

“We’re hoping to have some seedlings that kids can plant and recycled items. We’re hoping to have a college vs. college furniture flip competition, hopefully some food trucks,” Pittman said.

Habitat is also getting ready for the Great Community Give April 20 and is looking ahead to its second annual golf tournament May 6.

If you would like to learn more about Habitat for Humanity or get involved, you can go to centralvalleyhabitat.org or call their office at (540) 828-6288.

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