This article is part of a series about the App Builds a Home project, in which Appalachian partnered with Watauga County Habitat for Humanity to build a home from the ground up. The project, which began with fundraising in fall 2018, culminates with the home dedication on May 30.
BOONE, N.C. — The welcome mat is on the porch and the first completed home built through a partnership between Appalachian State University’s App Builds a Home (ABAH) and Watauga County Habitat for Humanity will be dedicated at 2 p.m. May 30 in a virtual Facebook Live ceremony. The ABAH team celebrates the achievement while planning a second home, construction of which will begin this fall.
ABAH is a campuswide initiative to build Habitat homes for local families in need, with Appalachian students, faculty and staff working together to design, fund and build the homes.
The first ABAH home, for the Barker family, was completed in May. ABAH raised over $95,000 and organized volunteers to build the home, which was designed by Appalachian’s Integrative Design Experience Laboratory (IDEXlab).
The coronavirus pandemic delayed the project by a few weeks as volunteer work at the build site was suspended.
“Luckily, the majority of the construction was done except for a few finishing touches,” said Kayla McDougle, a senior interior design major from Greensboro who is president of Appalachian’s Habitat for Humanity Club and a member of the ABAH planning team. “Watauga Habitat was able to use a small team of workers that could safely complete the last bit of work on the house.”
Allison Jennings, director of development at Watauga Habitat, said, “COVID-19 has stopped everyone in their tracks, but the students of App State continue to find creative ways to support affordable housing opportunities in our community. Now more than ever, everyone has been forced to consider the importance of having an affordable and safe place to call home.”
Several students said participating in the inaugural ABAH project was a life-changing experience.
“We don’t have a Habitat for Humanity in my hometown of Andrews, North Carolina, and I didn’t even know what a nonprofit organization was. Through ABAH, I have fallen in love with the program, the mission and the hope that a Habitat home provides,” shared Jamie Guerrero-Morales, a Diversity Scholar and sophomore with a double major in accounting and management.
McDougle said she was most impressed by participation of groups with different backgrounds — from the university and the community, as well as alumni living outside the area — coming together to support a worthy cause.
“Seeing the Barker kids so excited to live in their home and just thinking about how their lives will change in the best way possible, because they now have a safe and stable home to live in, has to be the most rewarding aspect of the project. Watching the university and community come together to help has been awe inspiring,” said Mackenzie Millett, a sophomore from Amelia Island, Florida, who is a member of Appalachian’s Honors College and is majoring in exercise science with a minor in business.
Millett said the ABAH project opened her eyes to the issue of affordable housing, especially in Watauga County, and she hopes to continue educating others about the issue during the rest of her time at Appalachian.
Ready for the second build
Fundraising has begun on the second ABAH project, a home to be built for the family of Sheila Potter, who is an employee in Appalachian’s Facilities Operations.
Appalachian’s Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity hosted a “Lambda Chi Bald Guy” head shaving fundraiser on campus prior to spring break as part of Watauga Habitat’s Big Kahuna annual fundraising event. Donations will contribute toward the ABAH goal of $40,000, with Watauga Habitat funding the remainder of the Potter house project. Construction is scheduled to begin in fall 2020.
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About Appalachian State University
As the premier public undergraduate institution in the state of North Carolina, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls more than 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.