Cynthia Figueroa and Heather Guthrie work on a recent Habitat for Humanity build. Charmain Z. Brackett/Augusta Good News
Cynthia Figueroa and Heather Guthrie work on a recent Habitat for Humanity build. Charmain Z. Brackett/Augusta Good News

Habitat for Humanity CEO builds for the future

Although Habitat for Humanity has been building houses in the Augusta area for nearly four decades, the organization has kept a relatively low profile in recent years, quietly building about one home every 12 months.

“That just wasn’t enough for me,” said Bernadette Fortune, who took over as the organization’s CEO in February 2023. “My goal is to complete five this fiscal year.”

Members of the FROGS (Faithful Retired Old Guys Serving) work on a Habitat for Humanity build. Charmain Z. Brackett/Augusta Good News

They are working on their third so far.    

She doesn’t want to stop with five either. Ultimately, she’d like to build at least 10 single family homes annually.

A partnership with the city of Augusta is helping spur some of that growth, she said.

Even at that, 10 homes a year doesn’t put a dent in the need. Before Christmas, Fortune organized an event that drew nearly 700 families interested in Habitat’s program.

One of the homes currently under construction is on a stretch of road in south Augusta.

“This is our fourth home on Richmond Hill Road,” she said.

 The organization has enough space for two additional homes to be constructed.

With about 1,400 square feet, it will have four bedrooms and two bathrooms when completed.

 Recently a group of eight managers from Wells Fargo spent a morning helping put in the floor.

“Wells Fargo has done this for years,” said Brian Preston, adding that they helped clear the site four years ago. “It’s important to show that we care about the community, and we want to give back.”

 Volunteers are vital to Habitat for Humanity’s effort and are always welcomed, Fortune said.

A member of the Geezers works on a recent Habitat for Humanity build. Charmain Z. Brackett/Augusta Good News

Two groups of volunteers regularly pick up hammers and saws and whatever tool Is needed to get the job done. One is called the FROGS, which stands for Faithful Retired Old Guys Serving and the other group calls themselves the Geezers, proudly wearing it on their hard hats. The FROGS also help with Turn Back the Block, another local organization focused on providing housing specifically in the Harrisburg community.

Fortune said corporate groups such as Wachovia and John Deere also provide volunteers.

“We only contract out stuff we can’t do such as laying the foundation and things like electrical for safety purposes,” she said.

While the thrust of the organization is to provide quality housing, Fortune wants to go beyond that by linking people to the resources in the community to provide for overall quality of life. A community resource room is being constructed in the ReStore on Washington Road, and in the coming months, she will have more information.                        

Founded in Americus, Ga., in 1976, Habitat for Humanity has built more than one million affordable, quality homes, according to the website. The Augusta chapter was started in 1986.

Charmain Z. Brackett, the publisher of Augusta Good News and Inspiring: Women of Augusta, has covered Augusta’s news for more than 35 years. Reach her at charmain@augustagoodnews.com. Sign up for the newsletter here.

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One response to “Habitat for Humanity CEO builds for the future”

  1. Kathy Brock says:

    I have just finished my application for habitat of humanity to hopefully come to my house and make my home feasible for myself. I have a balance issue and my knees and my hips are bad. So steps are not real good for me. I was looking for a rand i’m also going to volunteer time to answer phones for habitat of humanity and hopes that maybe someday I can own a real home. Is built by the best guys in town.

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