The Ammonoosuc Region chapter of Habitat for Humanity seeks an Executive Director to lead the charitable North Country organization into its future. (Courtesy Photo) (click for larger version)
December 09, 2021LITTLETON — For the first time in its history, the Ammonoosuc Region chapter of Habitat for Humanity has developed a paid, part-time Executive Director position to help bring the organization into the future.
The decision, said Board President Paul Lopes, was due to board member and building inspector retirements in recent years, coupled with COVID-related delays and a significant decrease in volunteerism.
"Up until this point, we've been a completely volunteer-driven organization. However, with recent events, we just don't have anybody interested in taking on the overall organization without being paid," stated Lopes.
Since its inception, the nonprofit has constructed nine new homes in its 12-town service area. A tenth house was planned for Bethlehem in mid-2020, but COVID lockdowns prevented construction.
According to Lopes, the chapter remains in good standing with the international parent organization, which requires at least one complete home construction every three years. But the group is running out of time and must abide by organizational guidelines in 2022.
Lopes estimated the new Executive Director position would require approximately 20 hours a week. The ideal candidate would already live within the nonprofit's service area, including Lancaster, Whitefield, Carroll, Jefferson, Dalton, Bethlehem, Franconia, Sugar Hill, Littleton, Lisbon, Lyman, and Monroe.
Duties include fundraising and volunteer management, community outreach, construction management, paperwork and filings. Lopes noted that enthusiasm for the organization's mission was more critical than previous Habitat for Humanity or construction experience.
"We're looking at bringing in somebody who can be involved in several of those areas, but not necessarily all. We're hoping that once we get several of the areas covered, we'll get volunteers and keep the chapter healthy. We keep putting out mailers, email blasts and things on paper saying we need volunteer help to keep this going. And there's really been no response," said Lopes.
As affordable housing remains a critical condition for the North Country, ACHFH also plans to increase its roster of active volunteers. Lopes noted that previous building experience was not a prerequisite.
"Typically, we have 10 to 12 people on-site when we're building. Only two or three of them are skilled, and the rest get pointed in the right direction to do the work. As a result, we build exceptional homes because everybody really concentrates on them," added Lopes.
A prime example of HFH's quality construction occurred in 1992 when Hurricane Andrew decimated the town of Homestead, Florida. Lopes noted that only ten houses remained standing at the end, all of which had been constructed by Habitat for Humanity volunteers.
"Everyone can swing a hammer and hit a nail. While a regular contractor drives one nail, we've got about ten," stated Lopes.
When applicants qualify for HFH housing, each family member must contribute 250 hours of sweat equity into their homes. The new homeowners gain 30-year, 0% mortgages with monthly payments often lower than property tax rates.
According to Lopes, several program participants have gone on the help with other builds or become board members.
"The most important part of it is that it's not a handout. It's helping people who are right on the verge of being able to help themselves every day to get over that hump of being self-sufficient. It's not for free - they have to work for it. And then they end up with a simple, affordable home. The approach is so different than most organizations out there," stated Lopes.
The standard HFH home ranges between 1,100 and 1,400 square feet, depending on family size. Each house is custom built to meet individual needs.
Anyone interested in becoming involved with Habitat for Humanity can contact the nonprofit directly at 603-616-2515. Resumes and cover letters can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.