By Harley Nefe
Four teams of community members competed to fundraise as much money as they could to support safe and affordable housing for Watauga Habitat for Humanity’s 2021 Big Kahuna Campaign. After a 10-week period that began April 1, 18 advocates raised a total of $54,242 to benefit Habitat’s affordable housing program.
“I’m just so overwhelmed,” said Allison Jennings, Director of Development for Watauga Habitat for Humanity. “That’s the second highest Kahuna Campaign we have ever had. It was record breaking!”
The team who raised the most money was crowned Watauga County Habitat’s Big Kahuna on June 10 at Booneshine Brewing Company. Watauga County Habitat’s Big Kahuna for 2021 is team Wonder Women including members Ella Jennings, Traci Royster, Nikki Crees and Allyson Medlin. Together, they raised $26,296 with Ella Jennings raising the most individually at $20,383.
Over the past six years, Habitat’s Big Kahuna Campaign has raised more than $230,000. All proceeds from the Big Kahuna Campaign directly support affordable housing projects.
Part of a global, nonprofit housing organization, Watauga Habitat for Humanity works to eliminate barriers to a better, healthier, and more financially stable life by providing homebuyers with a decent and affordable place to call home. Homebuyers partner with Habitat, helping build their own homes alongside volunteers. Habitat offers zero interest mortgages to the homeowners. Since 1987, Watauga Habitat for Humanity has built 29 homes and supported families facing challenges.
“There is not affordable housing in Watauga County available,” Allison Jennings said. “It’s just become out of reach for a lot of people to even go get a traditional mortgage, much less pay for it. So, we’re just glad that the community came together and said we want to do something about it. It may just be one house at a time, but overall, it makes a big difference.”
Allison Jennings attributes the success of the fundraiser to community members getting out again and wanting to help.
“Just to have an in-person event again and to have so many people show up, which led to a big turnout, it was just great,” she said. “We had some really good teams this year. Everyone was just so engaged with the fun of competing for a good cause, and everybody worked hard.”
Other participating teams this year included Appalachian State University’s Lambda Chi Alpha (Trey Knox, Caden Bondurant, Nicolas Lopina, Liam McHale, and Mason Zlotnick), Boone Business Exchange (Kelley Harrison, Karl Mohr, Stacey Gibson, and Lori Holton) and Boone Sunrise Rotary (Gary Moss, Lane Robinson, Caroline Poteat, Hanes Boren and Lynne Mason).
The 2021 Big Kahuna Leaderboard is as follows:
- Wonder Women raised $26,296
- Boone Sunrise Rotary raised $16,018
- Boone Business Exchange raised $7,150
- Lambda Chi Alpha raised $4,753
Allison Jennings also expressed thanks to Booneshine Brewing Company who hosted the Crowning of the Big Kahuna event.
“They were so accommodating, especially when we knew it was going to rain, and they were kind enough to close down for a couple of hours so we could set up,” Allison Jennings said. “ They were great and have a great space. It really promotes the eastern side of Boone because it’s growing, and Booneshine is out there and so is the Habitat for Humanity Restore. I was glad we could partner together and have an event out there.”
She added, “And thanks to the community for supporting our mission. We really appreciate it.”
For more information about Watauga Habitat for Humanity, visit their website at https://www.wataugahabitat.org/home.