History of Habitat for Humanity of Winchester-Frederick-Clarke

imageIn 1995, Braddock Street United Methodist Church spearheaded a project to develop a local Habitat for Humanity affiliate. They were granted affiliation status by Habitat for Humanity International in February 1997.

In 1998, the first house to be built by Habitat for Humanity of Winchester-Frederick County was constructed on Charles Street in Winchester. A second home was completed on N. Pleasant Valley Road and a third was built in Shawneeland in the fall of 1999. During the following months of 1999 and 2000, we completed seven homes at Gibson Place. Five more were completed in 2001-2002 and in 2003-2004, we completed six homes on Watson Avenue, one of which was the Dowell J. Howard “build” completed by their construction students and another having been built by students of Handley High School. Since then, Dowell J. Howard students have built a number of homes for us, as have those attending Handley and Shenandoah University.

Two more houses were completed on Watson Ave. in 2005 and through a partnership with the City of Winchester, Habitat then obtained nine lots on N. Kent St. and Fremont St., which were completed in 2006 and 2007. In 2008, a building lot was donated in Millwood by a long-time Habitat supporter, providing the opportunity to complete the first house in Clarke County, during which time a three-house project on Baker St. in downtown Winchester was also started. By the end of that year, five houses in the West Wynd Development of Stephens City were under way. Beverley Shoemaker of Bowman-Shoemaker Companies, the developer of West Wynd, donated the lots while a Community Development Block Grant through the Town of Stephens City provided funding for infrastructure. Over the next two years volunteers from Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, Interfaith Build, Women Build, and Blue Ridge Association of REALTORS® completed all five homes.

foundationIn 2010, two houses were completed on West Lane in Winchester, as well as our first EarthCraft-certified house on Fremont Street. During that time, we began partnering with area agencies through a “Neighborhood Stabilization Program,” which allows for the acquisition and redevelopment of foreclosed homes in neighborhoods that might otherwise become sources of abandonment and blight. The first of these renovation projects was located on Orchard Ave. and on November 4, 2011, representatives from Habitat Virginia toured the home, as it was identified as the first EarthCraft-certified Habitat rehab project in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Since then, an additional five EarthCraft-certified renovations have been completed. Between 2012-2013, we constructed three new EarthCraft-certified homes and began working on two more green construction projects, with a focus on Winchester’s North End.

As our house production has increased, so has our staff, moving from a small one-room office in the First Baptist Church that we spent the first six years of our affiliation to a larger office on Route 7 for, where we remained for another two years. During this time, we still had staff working from their home. In August 2007, we successfully completed the renovation of a beautiful historic stone building located at 145 Baker St. that now serves as Habitat’s permanent home. This new facility has allowed us to better accommodate the needs of both our staff and volunteers.

In 2006, we opened the ReStore, a home improvement outlet center that sells new and used foundation3building materials to help provide a self-sustaining funding stream for Habitat for Humanity of Winchester–Frederick County. As donations and business increased at the original ReStore location on Cameron St., the need for a larger facility became apparent. In June 2011, the Habitat ReStore relocated to a newer and larger facility at 1944 Abrams Creek Drive. The ReStore is now better equipped to handle more donations and customers and in turn, it produces much needed funds for the affiliate. We are also pleased to note the direct impact the ReStore has had on the local economy: over the last seven years, the ReStore has generated almost $112,000 in sales tax revenue.

strategicplan2013, Habitat for Humanity of Winchester-Frederick County published Economic & Social Impact Studies which showed that HFHWFC had contributed almost $8 million to the local economy over the last seven years. Our work has also added almost $3 million to property values, which generates approximately $35,000 in real-estate tax revenue annually. We are proud and honored to say that 100% of our Partner Families would recommend HFHWFC to others who may qualify, as a way to improve their quality of life.

For almost 20 years, HFHWFC has worked to improve people’s lives in Winchester-Frederick County by taking action with community partners in order to provide decent and affordable housing. The affiliate has served 55 partner families, benefiting over 200 individuals, 88 of which were children. During the next five years, Habitat for Humanity of Winchester-Frederick County plans to help reduce the shortage of adequate housing in the area by continuing to work in North End of Winchester. With 41 houses already in this neighborhood, we are pushing to revitalize the remaining blight-stricken housing spaces into a vibrant, safe, economically viable, and inviting place to live, both for current and future residents, while preserving the existing historic character of the neighborhood.

foundation2While Habitat for Humanity does not preach any particular religious doctrine, at Habitat we all live by what Habitat founder, Millard Fuller, has called the “Theology of the Hammer”.

Theology of the Hammer is a fundamental principle of Habitat for Humanity. It teaches us to put aside our differences and to work in partnership with one another.  

You can read more about our core beliefs here.