Habitat for Humanity of Hall County, a local nonprofit organization dedicated to building homes for families in need, has new leadership in Executive Director Lila Weaver.
An experienced realtor and former director of operations and executive programs
at Brenau University, Weaver stepped into the new position earlier this year.
Now, about three months into the role, much of her time has been spent learning the inner workings of the organization and further developing community partnerships.
With insight into the area’s housing market, Weaver stressed the need to build on those partnerships, strengthen efforts to alleviate the region’s ongoing affordable housing crisis, and to drive the continued promotion of Habitat’s brand and status in Hall County.
“My passion and desire is to connect with all the other nonprofits…having those conversations and what we can do as a joint effort (and) how we can impact more,” said Weaver, describing her decision to join the organization as a “calling.”
“Just taking a look at the position, and taking a look at myself and my career, I kind of ultimately determined it was a calling – it’s the time and place in my life,” she said. “I’ve always given back to the community. I’ve always had a service heart, but at this point and this place, I felt like Habitat for Humanity of Hall County needed me and the direction that I can take it.”
To cope with the continued rise in building costs, which has posed a significant challenge to Habitat’s mission to build more homes, Weaver aims to ramp up fundraising efforts that dwindled during the COVID-19 pandemic. She also has plans to open a second location for Habitat’s ReStore, which resells lightly-used household appliances, furniture and common home improvement products to raise money for their cause.
“I feel like we are a hidden gem…that’s really my mission is to really work on our brand,” she said. “I want a (ReStore) that you drive by, and you’re like, ‘Wow, I forgot I’m looking for a sofa, and that’s exactly where I need to stop.”
She also hopes to attract more volunteers, which allows Habitat to bypass labor costs.
“It’s a challenge, but the beauty of our organization are the (volunteers),” she said. “A lot of the cost of construction is labor, so volunteers are a huge, huge part of that.”
With a growing disparity between median income and home prices in Hall, Weaver described Habitat’s work as vital for lower and middle income people in the community.
“The timing of the current housing situation is really what has me here,” she said. “We need to make a difference in Hall County. We are a thriving place to do business…but who honestly can afford (housing) that works at a restaurant or the hospital? We need affordable housing…there’s so many great things about living (here), but the cost of housing is not one of them.”
As developers continue to claim large portions of Hall County for industrial, commercial residential projects, a primary need for the organization is land. Weaver said that continues to be Habitat’s primary need.
“We’re out there competing against developers,” she said. “Any buildable land goes a long way.”
Weaver said that monetary contributions, volunteers and donations of lightly-used furniture also are welcome, adding that funds raised from sales at Habitat’s ReStore – located at 2380 Murphy Blvd in Gainesville – is fundamental to supporting the organization’s mission to provide housing to those in need.
Those interested in donating to Hall County’s Habitat for Humanity can visit the website here to learn more.