Building a community of servants

Nestled near one of Charlotte’s favorite retail spots, one local church is working to make a difference in the community and they’re asking SouthPark businesses to give them a hand.

It’s a unique situation for Sharon United Methodist Church, which unlike most neighborhood churches has a challenge when it comes to serving their high-end community. That’s why Pastor Lory Beth Huffman said the church is taking a different approach.

“We’ve been trying to figure out a way to reach out to our neighborhood, which consists of business and some apartments,” she said. “How great would it be to be the leader of a project in SouthPark?”

So the church brainstormed, looking for ways to work with area businesses to make a difference in the greater Charlotte area, deciding on Habitat for Humanity of Charlotte. The house project will cost the community $70,000, a cost Huffman said is well worth it since the project will benefit a Charlotte family in need. So far, with $10,000 from Sharon United Methodist, the church has nearly $25,000 committed in all. They need $35,000 to get the project under way, putting a call out to area businesses.

“We’ve contacted close to 60 companies and we’ve got commitment from 11 companies. We really are focusing on SouthPark, but we obviously will take support from any one in this area,” Huffman said.

Area businesses can commit monetary donations of any amount to the project, Huffman said, adding that eventually the church also will need donations of labor. Businesses can reserve workdays or combine employees with other businesses and church volunteers to form work teams. Workdays will take place at the church, where volunteers will help frame and build the house in the church’s front lawn, visible for the entire community to see. The house will then be disassembled and moved to its permanent location, which has yet to be determined.

Phil Prince, marketing and communications director for Habitat Charlotte, said Habitat build projects usually take a total of 12 to 13 workdays, mostly on the weekends and depending on weather. This won’t be the first time the Charlotte organization will build the house on a different site other than its permanent location. Olympic High School in north Charlotte has built four different Habitat houses on their property over the past four years.

“It’s really going to be cool to have the house there for everyone to see,” he said.

The design and final destination of the house is still unknown, although Prince said the organization would most likely know in the next week or so once a family is chosen. Once the house is built and disassembled in the front lawn, Habitat will transport the house and reassemble on the final location. There, volunteers will put on the final touches, like painting, carpeting and installation of cabinets and appliances.

“People do this because first, it’s a great team building thing and the homeowner will be working on the house, too. People always ask us, ‘When can I do this again?’ They feel like they really contributed. It really builds community; not just a house,” Prince said.

And that’s why Huffman and members of her church think the project is such a good idea.

“In the SouthPark area, it’s very hard,” she said. “It’s an affluent neighborhood and it’s an affluent community. The retail here is some of the best in North Carolina, but it’s just hard to do anything within SouthPark that’s of the social nature.”

The church’s vision is that eventually, the SouthPark community can come together for more projects and really be servants in the community, with potential for a monthly service day, Huffman said.

“We would just be open to brainstorming ideas to what we are passionate about and where we can make the biggest impact,” she said.

But before they can think about future projects, they have some challenges ahead for the Habitat House.

“People have been very supportive of the idea and excited about the idea, but it’s been hard to get the funding raised, especially over summertime,” Huffman said. “It’s not the best budget season to be asking because many dollars have already been allocated. But once we get started, the workers… that part of it is going to work really well.”

Interested in donating/volunteering?
Contact Lory Beth Huffman at Sharon United Methodist Church at 704-366-9166 or by emailing lbhuffman@sharon umc.org.

Morgan Smith, Morgan@thecharlotteweekly.com

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