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Scattered Sites and Critical Home Repair Project

Almost Heaven Habitat for Humanity (AHHFH) received funding for a two-part project consisting of the construction of five single-family de- tached houses on four sites throughout its three-county service area. Trust Fund monies were also used for capacity building activities to assist in serving even more families more efficiently through its Critical Home Repair program.

Two houses will be constructed in the Summers Elms development in White Sulphur Springs, Greenbrier County. Two will be built on different sites in the greater Durbin area in Pocahontas County, and the fifth house will be constructed on a lot in the Potomac Heights Subdivision just outside of Franklin, Pendleton County, in a neighborhood that has seen AHHFH activity during the past 20 years. All five homes will be EPA Energy Star and EarthCraft VA certified homes.

By investing in staff who will travel throughout its service area and train local staff and community members to become better leaders and facilita- tors of positive change within their communities, AHHFH will streamline and increase the number of critical home repairs it is able to effectively perform each year. A special focus will be the elderly who typically are surviving on a fixed, limited income as well as disabled individuals who find themselves in similar circumstances. Veterans continue to be a segment of the population AHHFH serves.

Veterans Initiative

A few years ago Almost Heaven Habitat for Humanity (AHHFH) started its Veterans Initiative, a program that provides housing solutions, volunteer experiences, and employment opportunities to community veterans, military service members, and their families.

It has already transformed the lives of many deserving veterans throughout eastern West Virginia. Walter Heiskell (pictured here), a disabled veteran of the Persian Gulf War, is one of those individuals.

Following military service with the U. S. Navy and the Army Reserves, personal tragedy and health problems resulted in Walter being homeless over a period of three years. After staying in several veterans’ homeless shelters in Boston, Massachusetts, during that time, Walter moved into an apartment, hoping to finally find the stability he longed for. After several months of outrageously high electric bills, he found himself paying over half of his income toward this debt. Walter’s sister and brother-in-law live in Pendleton County and had volunteered with AHHFH, and she encouraged Walter to apply for a new AHHFH home in West Virginia.

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While visiting the Spring Mountain Festival, Walter noticed the AHHFH booth. He applied in May 2014 and was approved, and subsequently worked alongside AHHFH staff at the summer blitz build where he learned all aspects of homebuilding. He hopes that it will make him better able to maintain his own home. He has also shared with high school and college volunteers what he has learned by leading them on the jobsites.

Walter is excited about owning his own home and living so close to the siblings who have been a strong support system throughout his life.

Retired Navy Chief Rich Gantert (AHHFH staff member) symbolically presents the keys to his new home to Walter Heiskell.

“I am so happy to know there are people out there willing to help build homes for other people to better their lives,” Walter said. “I have already met so many wonderful people while working with volunteers and expect some long-term friendships as a result.” Walter added, “God bless all the donors, volunteers and staff for making this happen for families like min 

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