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When the Hammer Hits the Nail: ‘App Builds a Home’ Construction to Begin in September

By Jan Todd

This article is part of a series about the App Builds a Home project, which began with fundraising in fall 2018 and will continue through the building of the home this fall. Appalachian is partnering with Watauga County Habitat for Humanity to build a home from the ground up.

Months of planning and fundraising will begin to take physical shape in September when App Builds a Home (ABAH) — Appalachian State University’s initiative with the Watauga County Habitat for Humanity (WCHH) — begins framework construction on a house in Boone’s GreenWood subdivision.

Approximately 100 volunteers from Appalachian will work alongside the Habitat for Humanity Road Trip Crazies — a team of 50 Habitat enthusiasts based in Virginia who travel the country to kick-start home builds — for a two-day “blitz build” weekend Sept. 21–22.

“We applaud the critical impact volunteers are making in our community. The work they have done — and will continue — is truly making a difference, now and for the future,” said Appalachian Chancellor Sheri Everts.

“By the time the blitz weekend is finished, the walls will be up and the roof will be on,” said Misty Mayfield, an instructor in Appalachian’s Department of Geography and Planning and member of the ABAH planning team.

Mayfield said the event will resemble an old-fashioned barn raising, in which many volunteers accomplish a great deal of work in a short period of time. “It usually takes about 100 build days to construct a Habitat house,” she said. “The Crazies bring hype and enthusiasm, plus a wealth of experience, to partner with volunteers in the community and get the project off to a strong start.”

Appalachian State University Chancellor Sheri Everts, second from left in background, joins Watauga County Habitat for Humanity volunteers for an event held during National Women Build Week in 2018. Photo by Marie Freeman

Volunteers for the build weekend in September and ongoing work to complete the home are currently being recruited. ABAH introduced the project to new students during Appalachian’s summer orientation and Welcome Weekend events, and signed up more student volunteers during the university’s 2019 Club Expo.

Students, staff and faculty may also register to volunteer for the project on the ABAH website.

Raising funds to raise the roof

The ABAH team has been hard at work since fall 2018, when fundraising began toward a goal of $60,000 — half of the cost of building a Habitat home in Boone — that will be matched by WCHH.

Half of Appalachian’s goal has been met, with almost $16,000 in cash raised during fundraising activity to date, plus a donation in-kind by Tom Quackenbush of Glenwood Homes in Raleigh, who is providing framework materials valued at about $15,000. Quackenbush is the stepfather of Appalachian alumnus Gaige Cogswell ’18, who is currently pursuing his Master of Arts in student affairs administration at Appalachian.

The App Builds a Home team raised awareness and funds through an art sale during student orientations at Appalachian during the summer. Pictured, from left to right, are Allyson Medlin, a junior from Trent Woods majoring in public health; Dorothy Williams, a senior from Tallahassee, Florida, majoring in middle grades education; and Sarah Grace Paul, a senior from Saluda majoring in communication sciences and disorders. Photo submitted

Several fundraising events for the project are scheduled for fall. The week prior to the blitz build, the ABAH team will collect donations in Appalachian’s Plemmons Student Union, with a “class versus class” competition.

“This is a simple idea to engage the whole campus,” Mayfield said of the competition. “We’ve thought all along if every student gave $5, we’d easily meet our goal. The competition will make it more fun.”

During Appalachian’s Homecoming Week, ABAH is partnering with the university’s Department of Student Engagement and Leadership to host a field day competition for individual students and clubs, fundraising through team sponsorships.

ABAH team member Dorothy Williams, a senior from Tallahassee, Florida, majoring in middle grades education, said, “I think students are excited to participate in this project because it is a very tangible way to give back. They can hold the hammer and the nails. They can meet the family that they are helping to house. It really connects students to the community.”

The ABAH team displayed the “Yosef House” during Appalachian’s 2019 Summer Staff Day. Pictured are Appalachian academic advisers Cali Wickert, from University College, left, and Jenny Morris, from the university’s Department of History. Photo submitted