United Way donates to Habitat

Published 4:23 pm Tuesday, July 17, 2012

United Way members meet with new Habitat director Tim Risher.

The Chilton County United Way met Tuesday afternoon to donate $2,310 to the Chilton and Autauga branch of Habitat for Humanity.

Curtis Smith, the chairman of the United Way board, said they are happy to play a part in what Habitat for Humanity is doing in the county.

“United Way has been helping Habitat for Humanity from the start. We’ve always supported them and will continue to,” said Smith.

Habitat for Humanity’s new director, Tom Risher, was excited about the contribution and the changes that will be taking place in the next few months.

Risher accepted the director’s position in the beginning of May but has been working with Habitat for Humanity for 12 years, first as a volunteer and then as a construction chairman.

He first got involved with Habitat during his Air Force travels; he had gone to several bases where the people there were involved with it, and said he really enjoyed building with the program.

For years he was responsible for setting up the builds and working from that side of the projects, but he said he is looking forward to his new position. “It’s different,” he said. “It’s not just ‘If you build it, they will come.’ There’s a lot that goes into it (with fundraising and legal issues), but when you turn the keys over to the new owners, and they’re living in their new home—it’s really something.”

Though it does take a lot of work to provide a new home for someone in need, Risher is proud of what they accomplish. He smiled and said, “I wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t a great thing.”

And, according to Risher, what they accomplish is really great. To date, Habitat for Humanity has built more than 500,000 homes worldwide and is the sixth largest homebuilder in the nation. Since 1993, the combined affiliates of Chilton and Autauga have built 29 homes total—23 in Autauga County and six in Chilton.

Risher has planned a full schedule of building. He plans to have three houses built during the next fiscal year and four for the year after that. If everything goes smoothly, he plans to have a new home built every three months.

Habitat recently built its first energy-efficient home, and, beginning this year, each house built will meet the federal government’s 3.0 Energy Star requirements.

In addition to moving toward more energy-efficient homes, Risher said Habitat for Humanity is considering opening up a ReStore, a resale business that sells new and used building materials and home improvement items to the general public.

First and foremost, however, Risher hopes to raise awareness and, in turn, funds.

“We’re always after funding so we can do more for the community,” he said.

Their next build is in Autauga. It will begin in September and will be finished before Christmas. Risher then hopes to have the opportunity to work in Chilton for a while.

Habitat’s Family Selection Committee will meet with potential candidates on Sept. 8 at 9 a.m. at Clanton’s First United Methodist Church to determine who is eligible for a home, and Risher is anticipating a good response.

“We’re hoping to work more with Chilton County in the upcoming years,” he said. “We built two homes in Chilton County last year, but unless they find more applicants, the next few may have to be in Autauga.”

Risher said that they usually don’t have many applicants from Chilton County. “I really think it is just a problem with publicity, but hopefully more people will get involved, come to the church for more information and we can start really working in Chilton.”

Risher encouraged anyone with questions to contact Habitat for Humanity. Risher continued, “It’s not a hand out, it’s a hand up.”