It was supposed to be an 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. promotional event to raise awareness of Habitat for Humanity International, as well as Charlotte’s chapter of the nonprofit affordable homebuilder and the Habitat volunteers employed by Lowe’s Home Improvement stores.
But the way Habitat Charlotte spokesman Phil Prince tells it, the volunteers who framed a Habitat home in the parking lot of the Lowes in Charlotte’s University City district were so good at what they do that the work was done by 11:30 a.m.
“Beverly Earle of the 101st state House district wanted to come by and help, and we had to call her to tell her that she had better hurry up if she wanted to swing a hammer,” Prince said.
Earle, a Democrat, got to participate, thanks to a little maneuvering.
“We had (the volunteers) build two or three extra sheds – we put a shed behind every house we build.”
The event was part of a nationwide effort by “Lowe’s Heroes” employee-volunteers and Habitat International to try to recruit 100,000 new Habitat volunteers with what amounts to a worthy stunt.
In addition to Charlotte, Habitat’s professional staff and volunteers framed houses in Lowe’s parking lots in Atlanta, Denver, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Seattle, St. Louis and Baton Rouge, La.
In New York, however, Habitat raised two-by-fours in the middle of Times Square.
The beginnings of the houses are now being moved to the neighborhoods where they will eventually be sold below market value and with interest-free mortgages to people who could not otherwise afford a home of their own.
In the case of Charlotte’s hurried house, Prince explained, the framed sections of the house were put together with screws so they could be taken apart, moved to a neighborhood near the U.S. National Whitewater Center in west Charlotte, reassembled on a foundation and finished.
In addition to trying to raise awareness, the parking-lot builds also celebrated the Mooresville-based Lowe’s latest financial contribution to Habitat International: $23.5 million over the next five years. That brings the home-improvement giant’s contributions to Habitat since 2003 to $63 million.
─ Tony Brown