PEOPLE HELPING PEOPLE: Gwinnett Habitat partners with Great Days of Service

Brent Bohanan

A year ago our leadership team began brainstorming fun ways we could raise awareness about the need for affordable housing in Gwinnett County and at the same time help raise funds to meet that need. Alice Cunningham, our development director, shared that she had just started cycling and had set an ambitious goal of riding 70 miles in one day.

The obvious question was, why not solicit donations for Gwinnett Habitat for each mile and make it a fundraising event? Five other cyclists that love Habitat were invited to join in the 70-mile ride: Perry and Patty Peiffer, Phillip and Paula Williams, and Chuck Burleson. Soon the location of the ride was confirmed as the Silver Comet Trail and the Silver70 Bike Ride was born. Our dedicated cyclists have been busy training for the ride that is scheduled to take place on Saturday, March 25.

This ride is necessary because it is estimated that Gwinnett County has a housing deficiency of 40,000 units for people earning less than $40,000 per year. That means many families are choosing to live in situations that are unsafe, overcrowded or not affordable. Gwinnett Habitat provides these hardworking families the opportunity to own a new home through an interest-free mortgage. To date, we have served 132 families in our community with this incredible hand-up.

There is another important reason for this ride that may surprise you. There are many elderly and disabled citizens in our community that own their home, but cannot afford to make much needed home repairs. This means they are living in conditions that are unsafe, unhealthy and inaccessible.

Many of our neighbors will be unable to age in their home due to the inability to keep their place safe and livable on their own. Our home preservation program called, A Brush with Kindness, provides these homeowners with reliable home repairs at a cost they can afford which allows them to stay in their homes, while improving their living conditions. To date, we have served 47 families with this crucial service that is providing kindness and hope to those that need it most.

What is so great about the Silver70 Bike Ride is the fact that you can participate in the ride and raise funds to meet these housing needs without ever leaving the comfort of your couch or easy chair. It is easy! Just make a donation per mile of your choice and you will be helping us to reach our goal of $10,000 and to serve more families right here in Gwinnett County. Just go to www.habitatgwinnett.org and click on the donate button. Then click on the Silver70 Campaign to make your donation and get training updates and pictures from the ride.

Our plan is to make the bike ride an annual event and invite new cyclists to join us each year as we continue to ride for this important cause.

Brent Bohanan is executive director of Gwinnett Habitat for Humanity.

People Helping People is a publication of the Gwinnett Coalition for Health & Human Services. For more information contact Ellen Gerstein at ellen@gwinnettcoalition.org or at 770-995-3339.

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