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Home wasn’t built in a day; it took a day and a quarter

REID PARK – How do you build a house in 30 hours?

All photos by Tony Brown

All photos by Tony Brown

Help. Lots of help, like 150 around-the-clock volunteers, a handful of professional supervisors and a dozen paid AmeriCorps interns.

If there was a third “H” in Habitat for Humanity, Frank Spencer said, it would stand for help, on which the organization depends for its existence.

Spencer is the president of the Charlotte division of the national nonprofit, which set out last weekend to build one of its affordable homes for families in need within one day and six hours.

So much for how. Why would you build a house in 30 hours?

“This is the start of a month-long blitz – 30 days – to serve 41 families to observe our 30th anniversary serving families in Charlotte,” Spencer said early last Friday morning at the site of the 30-hour build, 2950 Morning Blvd. in the west Charlotte neighborhood of Reid Park.

Spencer explained the “blitz” as volunteers lifted roof trusses on top of the framing that had been erected starting at dawn. (Photo 1 and 2 in the slideshow.)

Habitat will build 21 new houses this month, spruce up nine others and make repairs to 11 more in four different neighborhoods.

In addition to the 30th anniversary, the idea is to also celebrate Habitat’s spending its five millionth dollar on helping to revitalize Reid Park, a number expected to grow to $7 million by 2015.

Of the 150 owner-occupied houses in Reid Park, a historically black, middle-class neighborhood that fell into disrepair, more than one-third were built or repaired by Habitat. By 2015, Spencer said he hopes to add another 20 owner-occupied homes to the existing 150 by building even more new houses.

Last weekend’s 30-hour build is one of the results of a $250,000 grant from the Lowe’s Foundation, a nonprofit associated with the home improvement store chain, Spencer said.

Working in overlapping shifts that put as many as 45 workers onsite at a given time, the volunteers and professionals had by last Friday afternoon gotten most of the siding and windows installed and were working on finishing the drywall. (Photo 3 in the slideshow.)

They worked through the night, installing doors, caulking joints and painting (at top, and Photo 4 in the slideshow) in the wee hours of Saturday morning.

And by noon Saturday, the finished home’s new occupants, Ram and Nar Thapa and their three children, posed for photos on the front porch of the home, as Habitat volunteers snapped away on iPhone and iPad cameras. (Photo 5 in the slideshow.)

So why did the 30-day, month-long, 30th anniversary celebration begin on Sept. 29th? And why will it not end until Nov. 2 with a big party at the Fillmore Charlotte?

“It’s 30 days of service,” Spencer explained, “but it will take longer than 30 days because we always take the Sabbath off.”

 

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