Habitat pulls together CEOs to help build home on Bon Air Avenue

Read the original GoUpstate post here.

In a few short weeks, Lisa Simmons said she’ll hopefully never have to look over her shoulder again.

Simmons, along with her daughter Shakila Crawford, will soon be the owners of a new home courtesy of Habitat for Humanity of Spartanburg. The group’s 132nd home — the same one Simmons will call her own — started to take shape in a major way Tuesday morning on Bon Air Avenue.

Once a single mother struggling to raise Crawford in Spartanburg’s Northside Apartments, Simmons called Habitat’s newest build a major opportunity for her and her daughter.

“It’s great to be able to come to a neighborhood and feel safe and comfortable,” Simmons said. “But also to feel like you really belong somewhere.”

Applicants like Simmons put in hundreds of hours of upfront work and must repay a 30-year, no interest mortgage that Habitat holds. Those repayments keep the operation sustainable and help fund future Habitat projects, program leaders have said.

Simmons and her daughter have put in some 350 hours of work — Habitat calls the process “sweat equity” — working on other projects in the Upstate and, Simmons said, on Bon Air Avenue across the street from her soon-to-be-finished home.

“To be able to have Habitat homes up and down this street, that’s huge,” Simmons said. “We’ve put in the sweat equity together and we’ve formed a real bond with these people right here on this street. We know them all, and we belong here.”

Tuesday’s work — Habitat of Spartanburg’s first-ever “CEO Build” — brought together some of the Upstate’s most influential leaders from organizations as diverse as the Milliken Foundation, Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System, The Johnson Group, BMW, Contec, United Way of the Piedmont, Denny’s and the JM Smith Foundation.

Together, the group pitched in to raise the walls of Simmons’ and Crawford’s new home, and company teams will work in coming weeks on the build.

It’s a collaborative effort Habitat spokeswoman Lynne Shackleford said her organization will seek to leverage in coming projects.

Harold Chandler, outgoing CEO of Milliken & Co. and a member of its board of directors, said projects like Habitat’s are a vital part of the fabric of a strong community.

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