2024 Habitat for Humanity International Conference

2024 Habitat for Humanity International Conference

Insights from our Board Chair, Kim Varga

Every two years, our staff attends the Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI) Conference at their headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia.

Affiliate offices from around the world are invited to attend, collaborate, and propel our mission forward.

In early March, our small but mighty team cozied up in a van and drove four hours to spend four days with our fellow Habitat for Humanitarians. However, unique to this year’s trip, we had the pleasure of being accompanied by the Chair of our Board of Directors and longtime HFHWM supporter, Kim Varga.

Meet Kim Varga:

Ms. Varga has been an avid volunteer and advocate of our mission since 2018. During her time at Schneider Electric, she helped secure corporate sponsorship of our home builds and annual Hammers & High Heels event. She is no stranger to working on the construction site, working on many homes in her six years of support. Today, she’s enjoying retirement life with her beloved pups and generously donating her time to lead our Board of Directors.

Coming into this experience from the lens of a board member, volunteer, and proud supporter, we were excited to hear her takeaways from our time in Atlanta. We had the opportunity to interview Kim and wanted to share her insights with neighbors and friends.

Insights from our Board of Directors Chair, Kim Varga:

Question 1: How would you describe your experience at the Habitat for Humanity International Conference?

“Amazing & humbling! The breadth and depth of Habitat’s impact globally was very impressive. I was familiar with the traditional Habitat model- raising money, buying land, and then building houses with volunteers and homeowners during the sweat equity process. However, I was unaware that Habitat for Humanity International was partnering with the United Nations and global food banks to address the temporary/short-term housing needs of refugees in Ukraine and Poland [as one example]. 

Question 2: What was the most impactful experience from your time this week?

“The passionate commitment to the mission of affordable and safe housing! Habitat is a global network of friends & partners truly aligned to a single mission. There are many options on how to achieve that mission based on the needs of the unique communities we serve.

Hearing what worked and what didn’t for each community and why was educational and inspiring. Every affiliate has access to these ideas! The fact that we are all in the same network and can leverage each other’s learnings is key. No need to make the same mistakes or create unnecessary delays in the work we do.”

Question 3: What ideas are you excited to bring back to our community?

More sustainable housing: Our community is a great place to lead the way with net-zero energy and sustainability.

Creative housing models: Our shortage of land and housing for low-to-moderate-income families is a necessary driver for innovative solutions.

Strengthening partnerships: It takes a village to build one! To serve our community, we need to collaborate and partner with the groups in our community! That includes large corporations, small/family businesses, fellow non-profits, churches, etc.

Question 4: What made you feel energized at the conference?

“I was very energized by the creativity and perseverance I saw in action. This comes from listening to and learning about your community’s needs.  If something doesn’t work – try again or try a different way.  The mission is too important to give up. There are 2.8 billion people around the world without access to affordable or safe housing, many of which can be found in our community.”

Question 5: What is something you didn’t expect to feel or take away from this experience?

“During one of our group sessions, HFHI’s CEO, Johnathan Reckford, said, “If not us, then who?”

Who indeed!”

Our entire HFHWM team is buzzing with fresh ideas after the 2024 Habitat for Humanity International Conference. Here’s to building bigger and better in the years to come!

Join Our Team

We are looking for a dedicated Homeowner Services & Office Coordinator to join our team!

The Homeowner Services & Office Coordinator is responsible for assisting with the successful transition to homeownership for HFHWM homebuyers and the day-to-day office operations of HFHWM. The primary responsibilities are to assist with coordinating, organizing, and tracking homeowner information, electronically or manually, as well as be responsible for office management responsibilities. They will also assist in committee support, community outreach, stewardship, and inter-department communication. This position reports to the Homeowner Services Manager.


  • Reporting and Tracking: Assist the department by coordinating and tracking the department timeline (selection through post-closing) through reports and file management. Maintain master homeowner list. Collecting demographic information and delivering information to all departments as needed.
  • Homeowner Services Processing: Basic screening of applicants for HFHWM Homeownership Program. Order applicant background checks. Assist Homeowner Services Manager in tracking and collecting partner family documentation while in the program, as well as file management from selection through post-closing. Assist the Homeowner Services Manager in coordinating the closing punch list and ordering pre-closing documents.
  • Education: Work with the Homeowner Services Manager to help coordinate and track education to homeowners and committee members.
  • Committee Support: Assist the Homeowner Services Manager with coordinating and preparation of meetings with the HOS selection committee to present families for selection into the program. Complete home visits with the support of the selection committee. Order annual committee member background checks.
  • Servicing/Post Closing: Maintain applicant and homeowner files within proper compliance/audit standards. Assist Homeowner Services Manager and VP of Finance with communication of post-closing payment schedules and mortgage deed releases. Delinquency management (30 and 60-day letters) including foreclosures and bankruptcy, reporting to appropriate parties.
  • Office Management: Oversight of building, office machinery, and vehicles, including repairs, cleaning, recycling, registrations, and vendors. Welcome guests and callers with a cheerful disposition. Screen phone calls for all departments and direct them as needed. Provide in-depth information about Homeowner Services and Critical Repair departments. Keep inventory and organize office materials. Take notes at meetings, including the weekly staff meeting, and prepare next week’s agenda with action items. Handle incoming and outgoing mail, distributing as needed. Proactively procure and circulate cards for office staff or other birthdays, condolences, etc. Order birthday treats/office meals as needed. Assist CEO and President with Board management tasks (annual recertifications, board list/website, trainings, etc.).
  • Community Outreach and Stewardship: Work with the Homeowner Services Manager to develop relationships with other non-profit agencies and key constituencies with the goal of strengthening all HFHWM communities to build partnerships. Assist the Homeowner Services Manager in maintaining stewardship between partner families and sponsors, volunteers, community members, etc.
  • Compliance Training: Complete all training for federal, state, and HFHI requirements as assigned.
  • Other duties as assigned.


  • BA/BS Degree in a related field and/or 1-2 years equivalent work experience.
  • Commitment to Habitat’s mission and the ability to work with people of all races, faiths, and backgrounds, as well as provide hope and encouragement for those in need.
  • Highly proficient in Microsoft Office Suite.
  • Great communication and problem-solving skills are required.
  • Solid interpersonal skills: professional and welcoming demeanor with demonstrated ability to maintain discretion in dealing with highly confidential information.
  • Demonstrated planning and organizational skills, including the ability to anticipate tasks, set priorities meet deadlines, and function smoothly under strict deadlines and shifting priorities with excellent attention to detail.
  • Ability to complete detailed calculations to determine financial eligibility for Habitat’s programs (e.g. debt to income ratios, housing ratios, etc.).
  • Flexibility regarding work assignments and work hours.
  • Knowledge of fair housing, ADA, ECOA, FCRA, TILA, and other applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations is a plus, but training can also be provided.
  • Proficiency in Spanish is an asset but not required.

Hours/Working Conditions:

  • Full-time (40 hours/week) – Monday – Friday. Some nights and weekend work are required. Hours may vary during busy seasons (applications, home closings, etc.)
  • Office conditions with occasional build site and other environments


Medical, dental, and vision insurance will become effective following 30 days of employment. We also offer a 403(b)-retirement plan with an employer match available after one year of work and three weeks of paid time off.

EEO Statement:

Habitat for Humanity Williamson-Maury is an equal opportunity employer and is committed to building and maintaining a culturally diverse workplace. We encourage women, minorities, individuals with disabilities and veterans to apply. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, religion, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, status of protected veteran, among other things or status as a qualified individual with a disability.

Homeownership Program Guide

Habitat’s Homeownership Program offers low-to-moderate-income families the opportunity to purchase a home with an affordable mortgage. 

The year-long program builds strength, stability, and self-reliance by providing education, budget coaching, and hands-on skills to become a successful homeowner.

Navigating HFHWM’s Homeownership Program

Eligibility & Expectations:

  • We approve applicants based on three criteria: the need for adequate housing, ability to pay, and willingness to partner.

  • Applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents, meet background check requirements, and be residents and/or employees of Williamson, Maury, Hickman, Decatur, and Lawrence counties for at least 12 months prior to applying.

  • Candidates must demonstrate the ability to afford the estimated monthly mortgage and household expenses. 
  • To be accepted into the program, individuals must be able to save up to 1% of the home purchase price for closing costs. This value is subject to change based on application season.
  • Location and design of homes based on what Habitat currently has available.
  • Our homes have three, four, or five bedrooms (depending on family size) and two full bathrooms. All homes have central heat and air conditioning; a refrigerator and range in the kitchen; carpeting and linoleum flooring; and a concrete, covered front porch.

Review Process:

  1. Pre-Application
    We open our applications roughly twice a year, depending on construction schedules, and availability. To apply, you will complete our initial questionnaire to determine if you meet the basic requirements, including need, affordability, and willingness to partner. Review our income chart ahead of time to ensure you qualify.
  2. Questionnaire Screening
    If the questionnaire is incomplete, we will reach out and ask for additional information before we proceed. Unfortunately, our program is unable to help every applicant every time. If your questionnaire is not a match, a denial letter will be sent. We also provide a list of additional housing resources that may fit your situation. 
  3. Full Application
    If your questionnaire fits our program, a full application will be sent to gather additional information, such as a credit report, income verification, personal assets, landlord verification, and a background check. You will have 10 days to complete and return the requested documents. 
  4. Review Process
    Habitat has up to 30 days to review and determine your eligibility. If the family is not eligible after processing the full application, a denial letter will be sent. 
  5. Pre-Selection
    Upon approval of your full application, Habitat will schedule a pre-selection interview and two home visits. 
  6. Vote
    Your application file will then be presented to the Homeowner Selection Committee and Board of Directors for a final vote. 
  7. Acceptance 
    After the vote, selected families will be notified of their official acceptance into the program! 

Be the first to know when applications open by subscribing to our Homeownership Newsletter! If you have any additional questions, check out our FAQ page or email apply@hfhwm.org. 

Partner Spotlight: Jack McCann

Most might think of a Real Estate Closing Attorney as the person who simply prepares closing documents and conducts a real estate transaction. However, Jack McCann far exceeds the normal duties and expectations of a closing attorney.  

McCann & Hubbard has handled many thousands of transactions and assisted thousands of clients since its founding on October 1, 2003. Jack joined our Board of Directors in 2005 and served until 2010.  In 2009, Jack began conducting our real estate closings and has completed approximately 140 to date while providing these services at only 20% of his normal rates.  This ultimately assists homeowners with out-of-pocket costs and our affiliate’s budget.

Becoming a first-time homebuyer is an undertaking Jack doesn’t take lightly.  He is always engaged and attentive, making certain the family understands their financial commitment. 

His services never stop at the closing table!  Beyond this service, he provides constant guidance and direction, daily, in many areas, such as HOA issues, delinquency escalations, FREE preparation of Last Will and Testaments to our families, and title and legal issues as they arise, and so much more.  Jack has never asked to be compensated for these additional tasks, therefore provides these services at ZERO cost to our affiliate.

It is obvious to our staff and our families that his heart truly believes and practices a shared vision in our community and this world. 

Thank God for awesome humans like Jack McCann, who choose to pay it forward in the gift of knowledge and service, ultimately improving the lives of others. 

Over The Edge Update

We are disappointed to announce that we will no longer be hosting Over The Edge this fall. Unfortunately, Vertis Green Hills no longer has the capacity to host our event and has stepped down as our building partner. Vertis Green Hills has been a champion of our event from day one, eager to take on this unique opportunity and help us make a difference. The decision to cancel this event was not taken lightly by Vertis or our affiliate and we look forward to finding new avenues of working together to build safe, stable, and affordable homes for our community.

Although this particular fundraiser is over, rest assured our Neighborhood Build is not!

We are going to power on with our plans to build 27 homes in Columbia for 27 families in need. All the funds that have been raised thus far were allocated to purchasing the building materials for these homes. 

Thank you so much for stepping up to support our brave Housing Heros! Your support means the world to us and to those who registered to rappel. If you have any questions, please feel free to email our team at development@hfhwm.org.

The Causes & Complications of the Housing Crisis

In recent years, the world has witnessed a growing housing crisis that has left millions of people struggling to find stable and affordable homes.

This crisis, driven by a complex interplay of economic, social, and policy factors, has far-reaching consequences on individuals, families, and communities. Let’s dive into the roots of the housing crisis, its impact on society, and potential solutions to address this pressing issue.

Understanding the Housing Crisis

The housing crisis is not an isolated problem; it is a multifaceted issue with several key factors at play. Firstly, urbanization and population growth have concentrated people in cities, causing a surge in demand for housing in urban areas.

Simultaneously, stagnant wages and rising living costs have made it increasingly difficult for many to afford decent homes, leading to a sharp increase in homelessness and housing instability. We have found that many of the families that enter our program are forced to live a considerable distance from their workplace to find housing within their budget.

Secondly, speculative real estate practices and property investment have contributed to soaring property prices, often pricing out first-time homebuyers and exacerbating rental market difficulties. Additionally, gentrification and the conversion of affordable housing into luxury developments have further displaced vulnerable communities, increasing socio-economic disparities.

The Impact on Society

The consequences of the housing crisis ripple across various aspects of society. Families struggling to secure stable housing often face increased stress and financial strain, impacting mental and physical health, as well as their children’s education. Homelessness can lead to a cycle of poverty and disenfranchisement, while overcrowded living conditions diminish the quality of life.

The crisis also hampers economic growth. High housing costs force individuals to allocate more of their income to housing, leaving less for spending on goods and services, which ultimately affects consumer-driven economies. Moreover, a lack of affordable housing in major urban centers can hinder workforce mobility and talent attraction, further stalling economic development.

Potential Solutions

Addressing the housing crisis requires a comprehensive approach that involves governments, policymakers, and communities working in tandem. Here are some potential solutions:

  1. Affordable Housing Initiatives: Governments can actively invest in affordable housing projects, providing incentives to developers who commit to building affordable units.
  2. Rent Control and Tenant Protections: Implementing fair rent control policies and providing robust tenant protections can safeguard renters from arbitrary rent hikes and eviction threats, fostering stable living conditions.
  3. Zoning and Land Use Reform: Reevaluating zoning regulations can help unlock the potential for higher-density housing in urban areas, making better use of available land and reducing sprawl. It can also encourage mixed-use developments that promote vibrant communities.
  4. Homelessness Prevention Programs: Governments and nonprofits can implement targeted programs to prevent homelessness, offering support to individuals and families at risk of losing their homes.
  5. Promoting Alternative Housing Models: Exploring and supporting alternative housing models, such as co-housing, tiny homes, and community land trusts, can offer more affordable and sustainable living options.

The housing crisis is not an insurmountable problem, but it demands urgent and collaborative action from all sectors of society. By addressing the root causes of the crisis, fostering affordable housing initiatives, and implementing sensible policies, we can begin to unravel the tangled web of the housing market crisis. Only then can we hope to create a future where everyone has access to safe, stable, and affordable housing – a fundamental human right that is crucial for the well-being and prosperity of our communities.

The Benefits of Corporate Volunteering

In recent years, a shift towards a more socially responsible corporate culture has gained significant momentum. As businesses recognize their role in fostering positive change in society, many have begun encouraging their staff to volunteer with nonprofits. This growing trend of corporate volunteering offers a plethora of benefits, not only for the nonprofits involved but also for the corporations themselves and their employees. In this blog, we will explore the numerous advantages of this symbiotic relationship and why it is a win-win for everyone involved.

1. Fostering a Sense of Purpose and Satisfaction

Engaging in meaningful work outside their regular job roles provides a sense of purpose and fulfillment that can boost morale and overall job satisfaction. Corporate volunteering allows employees to connect with causes they are passionate about and empowers them to make a tangible difference in their communities. 

2. Skill Development and Personal Growth

Volunteering exposes employees to different challenges and experiences, which can lead to skill development and personal growth. Working on a Habitat build site offers the unique, hands-on opportunity to learn construction skills while making a difference. Our volunteers learn how to use power tools, install cabinetry, and so many handy skills they can use to maintain their own homes! By volunteering with these organizations, employees can enhance their existing skills or even discover new ones, benefiting both their personal and professional lives.

3. Building Stronger Teams and Camaraderie

Working together towards a common goal outside the office environment allows employees to bond on a deeper level, ultimately strengthening their professional relationships. This enhanced team spirit can positively impact workplace dynamics, leading to improved collaboration and productivity.

4. Enhanced Corporate Reputation

Corporations that actively encourage their staff to volunteer with nonprofits demonstrate a commitment to social responsibility and community involvement. This engagement helps build a positive reputation for the company among customers, partners, and potential employees, which can, in turn, attract top talent and improve customer loyalty.

5. Increased Employee Retention and Recruitment

Employees who feel supported by their employers in volunteering activities are more likely to stay loyal to the company. Furthermore, when potential candidates see that a corporation encourages and values volunteerism, they may be more inclined to choose that company as their employer. This can significantly impact employee retention and recruitment efforts.

6. Positive Impact on the Community and Society

Nonprofits often lack the financial resources and manpower to fulfill their missions entirely. By encouraging staff to volunteer with these organizations, corporations can contribute to solving societal challenges they align with. The cumulative impact of corporate volunteerism can lead to a healthier, more vibrant community and a better society as a whole.

7. Employee Wellness and Stress Reduction

Corporate volunteering has been linked to improved mental and emotional well-being. Engaging in altruistic activities can act as a stress reliever and provide a sense of balance in employees’ lives. By promoting volunteerism, corporations can indirectly contribute to the overall wellness of their staff.

The benefits of corporations encouraging their staff to volunteer with nonprofits extend far beyond philanthropy. 

By fostering a culture of giving back, companies can make a profound impact on society, while simultaneously nurturing a more engaged, fulfilled, and loyal workforce.

Embracing the power of volunteerism, corporations can take the lead in driving positive change and shaping a brighter future for everyone.

Summer Housing Tips: Beat the Heat and Enjoy Your Home

Summer is a season of fun, sun, and warmth, but it can also be challenging to beat the heat, especially when it comes to our living spaces. Whether you’re a homeowner or a renter, keeping your home comfortable during scorching summer days is essential for your well-being. Here are some practical summer housing tips to help you stay cool and comfortable all season long!

1. Optimize Air Circulation

Proper air circulation is crucial for maintaining a comfortable indoor environment during the summer. Fans are a cost-effective way to improve airflow and circulate cool air throughout your home. Ceiling fans are particularly useful for distributing cool air evenly throughout the room, and they save energy and reduce electricity bills. Utilize natural ventilation by opening windows on opposite sides of your home to create a cross-breeze effect, drawing in cooler air during the evenings. 

2. Energy-Efficient Window Treatments

Prevent your living spaces from overheating by using shades, blinds, or curtains to block out the sun’s rays during the hottest parts of the day. Consider investing in blackout curtains to keep rooms cooler and protect your furniture and belongings from sun damage. These can help maintain a cooler indoor temperature and reduce the workload on your air conditioner.

3. Seal and Insulate

Check for any gaps or cracks in doors and windows that might be letting warm air seep into your home. Properly sealing and insulating these areas will not only keep the heat out in summer but also maintain a cozy environment in winter.

4. Create Shade

If your home has outdoor space, creating shade can significantly reduce the heat indoors. Install awnings, umbrellas, or even plant tall trees strategically to block direct sunlight from reaching windows and walls.

5. Use Cooling Appliances Strategically

Summer is the perfect time to take advantage of outdoor grilling instead of using the oven, which can add extra heat inside your home. Also, limit the use of heat-generating appliances like the stove and dryer during the hottest parts of the day.

6. Maintain Your Air Conditioning System

Regularly change the filters and schedule professional maintenance to keep the unit running efficiently. Set your thermostat at a comfortable temperature, usually between 72-78 degrees Fahrenheit, and use programmable thermostats to adjust temperatures according to your daily routine.

7. Opt for Lighter Bedding
Swap out heavy winter bedding for lightweight and breathable options made from materials like cotton or linen. This will help you sleep comfortably during warm summer nights.

8. Schedule Chores Wisely

Appliances like washing machines, dishwashers, and ovens generate heat while in use. To prevent unnecessary heating of your home, schedule these chores during the cooler parts of the day, such as early mornings or late evenings. Alternatively, consider using energy-efficient, heat-producing appliances during summer to minimize their impact on your indoor temperature.

9. Stay Hydrated
Your comfort during the summer isn’t solely dependent on your home; personal well-being is also vital. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and keep a spray bottle or a small fan nearby to cool yourself down during extremely hot days. Opt for lightweight, loose-fitting clothing to allow your skin to breathe and help you feel more comfortable.

By following these summer housing tips, you’ll be well-prepared to beat the heat and create a comfortable, enjoyable living space during the hottest months of the year. Embrace the season, stay cool, and make unforgettable memories all summer long!

Spring Home Build Dedications

On Saturday, June 3rd, Habitat for Humanity Williamson-Maury will host a home dedication ceremony for Paige Wolf, Elizabeth Velasquez, and Lozusha McLemore! After hundreds of hours of sweat equity, budget coaching, and an outpouring of community support, these three women will purchase their homes with an affordable mortgage.

At the ceremony, we will recognize our sponsors and volunteers, bless the home, and present the keys to the homebuyers.

All are welcome! Refreshments will be provided. 

Where: 610 E 7th Street, Columbia, TN 38401 Columbia, TN 38401

When: 10:30 AM – 12:00 PM

Who: Paige Wolf, Elizabeth Velasquez, Lozusha McLemore

Westhaven Builds First Entire Home Build with Habitat for Humanity Williamson-Maury

Eight years ago, Westhaven Foundation board member, Dana Hardy, had a vision that one day her beloved community would come together to sponsor a full Habitat home build. After years of hard work and perseverance, that dream has become a reality.

For the first time in Habitat for Humanity Williamson-Maury (HFHWM) history, a neighborhood is fundraising $70,000 for an entire home build sponsorship. The Westhaven community has been a loyal partner of the HFHWM Women Build Program, securing upwards of $20,000 through individual fundraising initiatives each year.

“Little did I know that the decision to get involved with Habitat eight years ago would have such an impact on my life. “I am so grateful for the opportunity for us to come together,” shared Dana through choked-back tears. 

On Saturday, March 25, The Westhaven Foundation held a kickoff event to rally support for their “Build for the Bettis Family.”

Taking on a monetary leap of a $50,000 increase is a challenge that the entire community is ready to take on!

“It has been so meaningful for all of us on the Westhaven team to be afforded the opportunity to witness so many deserving families realize the dream of homeownership and to be affiliated with HFHWM, a wonderful organization composed of awesome human beings who feel like extended family.” shared Hardy.

Dana and her fellow members of The Westhaven Foundation have already secured product or monetary donations from Southern Land Company, California Closets, Franklin Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram, Best Supply, L & H Flooring, and more.

D’Angelo and Tierra Bettis are the loving parents of four young children, Gabriella (7), Arianna (5), Mar’riana (3), and Josiah (1). The family sought safe and affordable homeownership through HFHWM after their apartment became inhabitable due to pests. Forced to move abruptly, the Bettis’ had to dispose of all belongings except for their clothing and move in with friends.

Westhaven is also planning to furnish the entire home for the Bettis Family.

This home represents a new beginning for the Bettis family that wouldn’t be possible without HFHWM and the support of the Westhaven community.

“Habitat for Humanity’s ability to serve is built on partnerships. Thanks to corporate, church, civic, and neighborhood sponsors, like Westhaven, HFHWM has been able to help 290 families, who wouldn’t otherwise qualify for conventional loans, achieve their dreams of homeownership. From hosting fundraisers for our Women Build to donating furniture for new homeowners to swinging hammers on the build site, the Westhaven community has been one of our nonprofit’s strongest supporters. We can’t thank the community enough for their years of collaboration, hard work, and generosity,”

Over the next year, D’Angelo and Tierra will work alongside volunteers and sponsors to complete 280 hours of sweat equity building on their homes and other homes in the program. They will also complete budget coaching and homebuyer education to prepare for this next chapter of homeownership.

To support the Westhaven Build for the Bettis Family, please visit hfhwm.org/WESTHAVEN.

Featured Partners

Habitat for Humanity’s vision is a world where everyone has a decent place to live. The support of our generous partners helps make our vision a reality and has a huge impact in the lives of families.

Tennessee Housing Development Agency GuideStar Platinum Seal of Transparency Community Foundation of Middle TN GivingMatters.com 2023 Top-Rated Nonprofit