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Four Years Later: AARP Community Challenge Grant at work in Farmville and beyond

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The Farmville Area Habitat for Humanity was one of 89 national winners of the AARP Community Challenge Grant in 2017, receiving $6,000.

Recipients were tasked to “create change and improve quality of life at the community level by supporting quick action projects.”  Farmville Area Habitat for Humanity used its AARP grant fund to purchase a mobile trailer to store and transport tools, supplies and equipment for their developing home repair program. In 2019, the Farmville Habitat for Humanity merged with the Nelson County program to become the current Piedmont Area Habitat for Humanity which now serves the six Virginia counties of Prince Edward, Buckingham, Cumberland, Charlotte, Nelson, and Nottoway.

Sam Rabon was the Farmville Outreach Director in 2017 and wrote the winning grant; he now serves as the Director of Resource Development and Marketing for the Piedmont area program.  He was asked to provide a four-year postscript on the status of the trailer and proudly provided pictures of it on a current home repair site.

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Rabon stated that the trailer project was an exciting addition to the service potential for Habitat for Humanity, allowing them to use it for nine affordable home repairs since 2017, spaced between two permanent home builds.  (They, like many organizations, lost a significant amount of community service time due to the COVID-19 pandemic). The trailer houses tools and equipment and is parked at the agency office when not on a build site.  The current construction manager has been able to add tools as the budget permitted.  He stressed that the acquisition of the trailer allows more flexible outreach to a larger geographic service area than just the Farmville area for which the grant was written.

When asked if the AARP Community Challenge Grant led to more grants for this particular program, Rabon stated that it has not specifically led to subsequent grants to improve the trailer project. However, funders see value added in the ability for Habitat for Humanity to provide affordable repairs with access to more equipment than they could haul in a standard pick-up truck.  They have a fiscal year 2021/2022 goal of being able to perform 20 home repair projects using the trailer. The previous home repairs were mainly done in Charlotte County but will be able to be onsite in all six counties which they now serve.

Speaking for the Piedmont Habitat for Humanity, Rabon said that they were thankful for AARP and what they had made possible for the community in line with their organizational goal of affordable housing builds and repairs.   

When asked if he had suggestions for other organizations who might consider applying for the AARP Community Challenge Grant, he stressed the importance of considering not just a quick action, short term project but one with an eye to the future which will yield a long-term impact, benefiting the community for years to come.

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