Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity’s Home Repair team, with financial and volunteer help from Spectrum and Spectrum Housing Assist Program, recently built a 70-foot accessibility ramp for 93-year-old Shiloh resident Emma Aiken.
Twenty-four Spectrum volunteers spent a Saturday pouring footers, building sections of the ramp, landscaping, and more in what was Asheville Habitat’s largest volunteer effort for a single Home Repair project to date. Staff, AmeriCorps members, and other community volunteers helped on subsequent days to complete the sizable project.
Prior to the construction of the ramp, Ms. Aiken had to trek through her yard to her back door to get in and out because her front door was atop so many steps; steps that had gotten harder and harder to navigate as she aged. In addition to building the 70′ accessibility ramp, the team did some minor repairs to ensure Emma can continue to age in place and live in the home that holds all of her family memories.
“Since my husband passed I don’t have a lot of people out here (at my house),” Emma said. “So it was just amazing to see all the volunteers out here- they came out here to help me.”
Ms. Aiken is a mother, a grandmother, a great grandmother, a great great grandmother and a great great great grandmother! Her daughter Carol explained that there are 165 family members — which they believe is one the largest African American families in the area.
Asheville Habitat’s Home Repair program helps low-income Buncombe County homeowners like Ms. Aiken live better and longer in their current home, while also preserving and improving affordable housing stock. Currently, seventy-five percent of families served by Asheville Habitat are served through Home Repair.