Why I volunteer: Building dreams and making a difference

Peggy Crowe

Editor’s note: As part of Xpress’ Spring Nonprofit Issue, we asked residents to send in accounts of their volunteer work with local nonprofits. See all 12 responses in this week’s print edition. 

Peggy Crowe is a volunteer at Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit that brings people together to build homes, communities and hope.

Xpress: When and why did you begin volunteering for Habitat?

Crowe: When I was at the University of Georgia in 2001, my school project was the Habitat for Humanity Women Build. They were rolling out two per state. I had no idea how much it would change my life, the lives of the women who supported the build and the new homeowners. Athens was educated about the need for affordable, safe housing for families in need and generously supported the entire endeavor. I led the build long after I graduated because it’s incredible to see women from all walks of life bond together to lift up a family forever.

What do you do at the nonprofit and what keeps you returning to the volunteer position? 

When I moved to Asheville in 2004, I was delighted to find that the Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity already had a Women Build Advocacy Team. We’re dedicated to getting more women involved with building homes and letting the community know about the amazing work women have done. There is perpetual joy in being a part of a tightknit group and the families we work beside who are dedicated to radical, life-altering change. We’re proud to  have started the 19th Women Build home and there will be more.

What do you wish you’d known prior to starting? 

I was blown away by the depth, breadth and lifelong impacts of the AAHFH. We were the first affiliate in North Carolina in 1983. Our ReStore was one of the first to open in 1990 and remains one of the top-performing stores out of 900 nationwide. We won an international award for our home design for aging in place. We have built 400 homes, repaired 500 more and provided housing for 2,100 people. Add those stats to the best-run organization I’ve ever seen, where everyone from the executive director, staff and volunteers are seamlessly motivated by love.

What do you tell folks who are interested in volunteering but have yet to commit? 

Women often sign up to build a home for one day. But that day changes you forever. You learn new skills in new surroundings. You find a rhythm with others who may have been strangers but are now friends. You overcome your uncertainty of what you thought you couldn’t do. There are tangible results of something that you completed in seven hours. All of those days add up to create a new home, a new life for homeowners who had never allowed themselves to believe could come true. You’ll always remember that you were integral to fulfilling their dream.


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