04/29/13 — Habitat plans 'mom' build

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Habitat plans 'mom' build

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on April 29, 2013 1:46 PM

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Casey Mozingo

New Habitat for Humanity development director Andrea Freile poses on the building site at 104 E. Hooks River Road on Friday.

Andrea Freile knew she wanted to move back to Goldsboro, to be closer to family and to raise her daughter.

But she couldn't have known just how rewarding that return could be.

Ten years ago, she was community services director at Partnership for Children of Wayne County. She went on to work for the government and obtained two master's degrees, but admits her heart was in Wayne County.

"I always wanted to come back to Goldsboro because this was the place that embraced me," said the Ecuadorian transplant. After her arrival, she was soon joined by her parents and a sister, who all still live in the area. "My vision was to come back to Goldsboro and bring back my academic background and professional experience."

Ultimately, she wanted to make a difference -- in the cultural diversity as well as the growth of downtown Goldsboro.

Her new job as development director for Habitat for Humanity fit the bill.

"It was really great when I heard about Habitat because they're a diverse organization and they do help Wayne County, but it's also an agency across the world," she said. "So my vision really could work here.

"It was definitely the right match because I feel like I'm doing everything I want to do. I'm so happy to represent (Habitat). I feel it's going to be a job that's going to be so satisfying because everyone in the community already wants to help."

Ms. Freile has been impressed with many aspects of the agency, she said, from the staff at the Habitat office to the active board members and willing volunteers who donate their time to projects. It is also rewarding to be part of building a home for an appreciative family, she said.

But there is one misperception she would like to clear up.

Habitat for Humanity is not free, and it's not a handout, she said. Rather, it can be called "a hand-up."

"The families have to work for that mortgage," she said.

"How many phone calls a day do we get?" said Schauna McBrayer, volunteer coordinator. "We get a lot of people that walk in off the street or they call -- 100 to 125 people per year that will call us, with about 25 percent acceptance."

The goal is to build between 7 and 10 houses a year, she added.

"Right now, we're working on house No. 54 in the 11 years that we have been in Goldsboro," she said.

Bill Royall, of Daniels and Daniels Construction, serves as board chairman.

"We get a lot of applicants," he said. "Of those applicants, they go through a process of screening before it's ever presented to the board for acceptance -- do you pay your bills, do you meet certain income guidelines, things like that. These people will be able to pay mortgage. That's never in question at that point in time.

"Once they have gotten into the pipeline, all that means is that we agree as a board that this family should be considered for a house."

Applicants are also required to do a minimum of 300 hours of volunteer service, "sweat equity" if you will, Royall said. Many even begin volunteering to work on houses well in advance, in anticipation of one day getting their own.

"Because of that it gives the family ownership," he said. "That makes them a better homeowner, a better member of the community, as historically as families get into these houses, they keep up their properties.

"One of the board members was a Habitat recipient. And we have one homeowner who's completely paid off her mortgage."

It typically takes between four and six months to complete a house, officials said, so a variety of creative efforts are used to elicit volunteers. Last week, for example, the organization held its first annual CEO Build Day, drawing 25 business owners and community leaders to work on a house.

The project will continue the weekend of May 9-11 with the national Women Build program, underwritten by Lowe's.

"It's entirely women," Ms. Freile said. "We're looking to recruit 60 women from Wayne County. It's over Mother's Day weekend.

"The idea is to get women comfortable with construction. It's not a feminist thing. The idea is to teach women -- there will be clinics to teach them about construction."

Mothers and daughters, sisters or friends, women are asked to pledge to raise a $50 donation and work one day or $100 for all three days. Breakfast and lunch, and a T-shirt, will also be provided.

"It's just nice to see women side by side working together for such a great cause," Ms. Freile said.

The current project, on Hooks River Road, is an 11,037-square-foot three-bedroom home, said Steve Swart, construction manager. It is unique, though, he added, in that it is also handicapped accessible, as the recipient's wife, diagnosed with muscular dystrophy as a young teen, has been in a wheelchair since 1999.

"When I found out the mother is wheelchair-bound, I thought even better that it's around Mother's Day," Ms. Freile said.

To volunteer or learn more about Habitat, visit habitatgoldsboro.org or call 919-736-9592.