MATTHEWS – Runners and walkers will unite this weekend for two annual events supporting Habitat for Humanity of Matthews – an organization that has served people in need in Matthews and the surrounding communities for 25 years.
The seventh annual Sandy Feet 5K and the third annual Habithon walk will take place Saturday, April 26, in downtown Matthews, with the 5K starting at 8 a.m. and the Habithon beginning shortly after. Proceeds from both events will help fund Habitat Matthews’s 25th anniversary home.
“This is particularly important because we are having this milestone year,” said Dawn Folmar, director of development and volunteers for Habitat Matthews. “… We had 103 runners last year. We would love to have more than that this year.”
The Sandy Feet 5K is held each year in conjunction with Matthews’s annual BeachFest, a weekend family festival created to bring beach-themed activities and music to downtown. Folmar said hosting the 5K during the festival helps raise awareness of Habitat Matthews and the services it provides.
“Even though Habitat (for Humanity) is the second most recognized nonprofit brand name behind the Red Cross, each and every Habitat is its own grassroots organization,” she said. “All the money we raise here in Matthews stays here in Matthews. We’re serving people in our community.”
The Habithon walk was launched in the spring of 2012 and is the brainchild of now 14-year-old James McLelland, a Butler High School freshman. The Habithon has been held separately from the 5K for the past two years, but James and Habitat Matthews leaders decided to merge the walk with the 5K to give more people an opportunity to participate and learn more about Habitat Matthews.
While the 5K will start at Stumptown Park and make a loop along streets in the downtown area, the Habithon will give people a chance to walk along the Four Mile Creek Greenway. James said the event also appeals to kids and people who can’t physically complete a 5K.
“We’re making it a true family event because everybody of all levels of (athletic ability) can do that event,” James said.
Raising awareness – not just funding – for Habitat Matthews is one of the key reasons James launched the Habithon two years ago and continues to support the endeavor each year.
“I have a huge heart for service, and I feel that doing Habithon is my way of being a servant not only for God, but for his people,” he said. “… (Habitat Matthews) is such a great organization. One of the big things is raising awareness because not everyone realizes there are thousands of families (in our community) on the streets without homes. It’s an organization that tries to make a difference.”
Habitat Matthews recently dedicated its 102nd home and plans to break ground on its 25th anniversary home, likely the nonprofit’s 103rd, in August. The organization builds four to five homes each year while also managing a ReStore in downtown Matthews. The store accepts donations of household items and sells them to the public, with proceeds going directly to Habitat projects.
Folmar said Habitat Matthews leaders have several goals in mind for the near future including an expansion into the Mint Hill area. Leaders hope to begin the expansion by opening a second ReStore in Mint Hill, which Folmar said would hopefully open doors to secure land and build houses in the
“We want to start with a ReStore because it’s a really great way to let people know we’re there,” she said. “That’s our first goal. As we establish a ReStore, we want to buy land in Mint Hill” to build houses. The organization also plans to serve 25 current Habitat families over the next five years who need help with significant home repairs, Folmar added. “That’s our other big goal.”
Find more information about Habitat Matthews, the Sandy Feet 5K and the Habithon at the organization’s website, www.habitatmatthews.org, or call 704-847-4266.