On the contrary, according to Matt Carlson, executive director of the 20-year Cleveland affiliate which has built 79 houses in the Cleveland and Bradley County community over the past two decades.
In 2011, the local Habitat organization will build another 10 houses, the first time in its history that core staff and volunteers have build so many within one calendar year. In 2010, Habitat constructed 10 homes, most of which were located in the Century Village subdivision on 20th Street and a new development on South Lee Highway called Stone Gate.
For the next two to three years, Habitat will focus its attention almost exclusively on Century Village with the intent of completing the development which will hold 40 or more houses once the subdivision is finished, Carlson said. He believes Century Village will be completed in 2013, at which time Habitat crews will concentrate on Stone Gate and perhaps other areas as they become available.
Until this year’s spring thaw returns Habitat workers and volunteers to construction sites, many are concentrating on planning for those builds while also focusing on fundraising campaigns that will raise money for more homes and for a warehouse that the affiliate hopes to build on its own Habitat ReStore and administrative offices property.
One of the organization’s key fundraisers, which Carlson believes will eventually become the affiliate’s signature event, is the Toyota of Cleveland Bike to Build. As announced in previous editions of the Cleveland Daily Banner, the Bike to Build fundraiser — which is entering only its second year — hopes to double last year’s participation levels.
In the inaugural 2010 event, some 250 bicycle riders participated. It included about 150 volunteers. The event raised enough money to help pay for most of one new home construction. Carlson’s goal for the 2011 event — which is scheduled Saturday, April 2 — is to double participant numbers and this in turn could double proceeds which means even more Habitat houses.
Carlson said this year’s Toyota of Cleveland Bike to Build will feature four routes and distances — 20K (12.4 miles), 50K (31.07 miles), 100K (62 miles) and a 100-mile route. Each route will begin and end at Bradley Central High School. Last year’s routes revolved around Century Village. The 2011 courses will include several communities such as Candies Creek, Black Fox, Hopewell and McDonald.
The 100-mile route, intended for experienced bikers, is being billed the Red Carpet Ride. It will include timing chips and rolling escorts for cycling participants, Carlson explained. Routes will include law enforcement patrol and support. Cyclists will have access to beverages, snacks and restrooms. Directional signs and road markings will identify each route. Volunteers will also be in place to keep cyclists on-course and out of harm’s way.
The Toyota of Cleveland Bike to Build is only one part of Habitat’s busy year. Over the course of the remaining winter, the organization is still securing corporate sponsors and volunteer teams for each of the planned 10 home constructions. Additionally, the local affiliate is gearing up for its newest program — the Brush With Kindness initiative that will target the rehabilitation of existing older homes as opposed to building from ground up. Local volunteers are expected to rehab 10 to 15 existing homes, Carlson said.
The executive director described 2010 as a landmark year which set a new standard for the organization. This will be one of the organization’s goals in 2011 — to exceed all that was accomplished last year and to lay even more, and newer, stepping stones for 2012 and beyond.
“We had an exceptional year in 2010,” Carlson said. “We recorded more than 30,000 hours of volunteer service to the community. That’s a lot of hours and it was made possible by community involvement. We can’t build homes without the community getting involved.”
Likewise, Habitat can’t raise funds to build those homes without the same kind of commitment from individuals, groups, churches, civic organizations, schools, companies and industries, Carlson said.
“We’d love for anyone or any group or company to give us a call,” Carlson said. “We are excited about the prospects for 2011 and its potential.”
Those interested in helping Habitat in any capacity, or in making financial, material or volunteer man hour donations may contact the local affiliate at 476-6947.