In a helping hand from one Habitat to another, volunteers from the Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity raised the walls on the home of a NOAHH Partner Family, Vanessa Holliday.
The house is sponsored by John Cram, the owner of several Asheville businesses. His businesses are art-centered, including New Morning Gallery which has crafts and home furnishings, Blue Spiral 1 for fine arts, crafts and exhibitions, and the Fine Arts Theatre, which shows independent films. At the wall-raising, he explained that flooding in Asheville three years ago ruined a number of his businesses: “We had a tiny little flood compared to what you all had down here, but one of my businesses took on about 2 feet of water. So we knew we had to do something.” John expressed his thoughts on the home-to-be, saying that “Seeing Vanessa here and the good person that is going to have this house means so much to us back in Asheville that we will forever have a connection to New Orleans.”
Two groups of volunteers from Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity spent two weeks working with NOAHH. Many of those participating were regular, long-term volunteers with the Asheville affiliate who came together because of Habitat. Last year, Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity built 16 homes in its service area and 8 homes in Guatemala. Spencer Duin from the Board of Directors of the Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity, was present to work and mark the event with the volunteer group.
The house on Mathis Street will be home to Vanessa and her niece, Mariah. Vanessa was born and raised in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans, and has been an employee with the City of New Orleans for 20 years. Mariah is a 15-year-old who loves to read, talk on the phone, and listen to music. Despite all of the challenges that she and her family have endured, Mariah has maintained a 4.0 grade point average at Edna Karr Charter High School.
To the crowd of volunteers who helped her raise the walls on her new home, Vanessa said: “My family and I are going to really enjoy this house. Feel free to come over!”
Just a few days earlier, another Asheville-related event took place on a rain-soaked day. The weather didn’t dampen the spirits of homeowner Thomas McDonald, a bass guitarist from Metairie, as his new home was being dedicated in the Musicians’ Village.
The house for Thomas was made possible by another musician, the rock and blues great, Warren Haynes. A member of the Allman Brothers Band and the primary singer, guitarist and songwriter of Gov’t Mule, Warren celebrated the dedication with Thomas and singer and harmonica player J.D Hill (whose band Thomas used to play with and the first musician to move into the Musicians’ Village.) Warren Haynes has been a long-time supporter of Habitat for Humanity. A native of Asheville, his annual Christmas Jam attracts performers around the country to benefit Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity.