Fayetteville Area Habitat For Humanity will host its Framing the Future event at Sweet Valley Ranch on Sunday, June 26, from 4 to 7 p.m.
The "Kool in Khaki" themed event will feature live musical performances by the Throwback Collaboration Band, a barbecue chicken dinner provided by Mountaire Farms, and door prizes from local businesses.
While the event's primary goal is to raise funds for ongoing and future Fayetteville Area Habitat for Humanity projects, current CEO Ron Gunter very much sees it as a celebration. A celebration of all things accomplished and the accomplishments yet to come.
Gunter also sees this event as an opportunity to say goodbye before his retirement at the end of June.
Gunter, who came out of retirement to act as CEO in 2019, reflects fondly on his time with the organization and is very excited about things to come.
"I love what we do here, our mission, and what we're about," he told Up & Coming Weekly. "We have a great, passionate staff and we're very team-oriented. Together we've built over 55 homes, completed over 100 repairs, and we're excited about what we've done and the possibilities of the future."
Gunter takes his exit at a time of tremendous transition within the organization. Brandon Price, current advocacy and compliance officer and recent law school graduate, is poised to take over as CEO starting July 1.
Additionally, Fayetteville Area Habitat for Humanity's geographic service area has expanded to include Cumberland, Robeson, Columbus, Sampson and Bladen Counties, making it the largest land mass affiliate in North Carolina. Gunter is especially thrilled with the inclusion of Robeson and Columbus counties as neither has had the support of a Habitat for Humanity Affiliate before.
In addition to recognizing the exciting new developments on the horizon, Framing the Future will reflect on one of the organization's most significant accomplishments, the completion of Oakridge Estates.
Oakridge Estates, located off Old Bunce Road in Fayetteville, comprises 47 homes, nine of which have veteran homeowners, and 15 will house those displaced by hurricanes. The project, which broke ground in the summer of 2019, is expected to be completed by the end of June. Currently, every home in the subdivision is occupied, except for four still under construction.
For Gunter, the immense pride he has for the project and the people who made it happen is immeasurable.
"We did this in a remarkable amount of time. Prior to 2019, with hurricanes Sandy and Matthew, almost all of our work was repair work. We've built three homes in Cumberland, Sampson and Bladen County in the last three years — no other new homes were built during that time. To turn that around and build 55 homes in three years, we're very excited to keep that pace and build more homes for families in need."
To that end, Gunter spoke of a need for more community outreach as the need for safe and affordable housing becomes greater.
"Single-family housing is our specialty," he explained. "The City of Fayetteville has been a wonderful partner, and we work with churches, several panhellenic organizations and service groups."
Despite high visibility on a global scale, consistently reliable help is still sometimes difficult to come by and is vital in completing these projects, according to Gunter.
"We want people to know and realize Habitat is here and involved, and it cannot do what it does alone. We need the community to volunteer, donate and understand that building a whole house takes a lot of time," he explained. "As a brand, we're very well known, but we still need help to create change and affect change in the lives of people in the community. We need more people that will come work alongside us — lots of people are necessary to help make the changes we need to make, and together we can make a difference."
The Framing the Future event is free and open to the public. Still, April De Leon, Director of Marketing for Fayetteville Area Habitat For Humanity, hopes to attract people who want to get involved with the organization.
"We're hoping to see county leaders and create potential volunteer partnerships. All of our staff will be there to answer questions about donations, volunteering, and all the ways available to get involved," she said.
Gunter also hopes the fundraiser will bring awareness to what exactly Habitat for Humanity is and what it isn't.
"There is a lot of Habitat for Humanity misinformation out there," he said. "We don't just give homes away. Our homeowners have a mortgage, and we're the underwriters, the builders and the mortgage-holders. Habitat homeowners put 300 hours of sweat equity into their homes. Most are first-time homeowners, so 50 of those hours are spent in classes on budget building, property tax, insurance and the ins and outs of owning a home. Most people only see the front side, us building the homes, but we do all we can on the backside to keep the families in that home. Our goal is to help build generational wealth by putting them in a safe, high-energy-efficient home and will last their lifetime — something to leave their children."
For those interested in donating, there are several ways to do so outlined on the event's website. People can donate items to the silent auction, sponsor a table or become a FAHFH partner.
From Friday, June 24, until Sunday, June 26, a portion of all sales at Sweet Valley Farm will be donated to Fayetteville Area Habitat For Humanity.
Another way to support the organization's efforts is shopping at the Fayetteville Area Habitat for Humanity ReStore. Proceeds from all sales go toward underwriting new homes.
Framing the Future is an opportunity for people to come out, eat good food, listen to good music and enter a conversation about what it means to be a good neighbor.
Sweet Valley Ranch is located at 2990 Sunnyside School Road in Fayetteville.
This event is free and open to the public, but an RSVP is required. To RSVP, visit the FAHFH website at www.fayettevillenchabitat.org/.