The local chapter of Habitat for Humanity has an executive director for the first time, as leaders of the organization endeavor to ramp up home-building for families in the region.
Habitat for Humanity of Northern Saratoga, Warren and Washington Counties has operated as a volunteer-run organization for two decades, but now has brought on Courtney Shaler Smith as executive director and has an office in the Glens Falls Technical Park.
“We recognized if wanted to grow, and do more buildings, we couldn’t keep operating with just volunteers,” said Deirdre O’Callaghan, president of the board of directors for Habitat for Humanity’s local chapter.
The local chapter has operated with a volunteer board for 20 years, and has been constructing about one home per year.
The organization places families who would otherwise be unable to afford a home in homes that groups of volunteers help to rehabilitate or build new.
The local Habitat chapter isn’t currently constructing any homes, but are in the process of trying to acquire some properties and will “hopefully start construction this spring,” O’Callaghan said.
Habitat volunteers remodeled a house in Lake George for residents John and Ethel Beaty over the summer.
“We’d like to do more,” O’Callaghan said. “We need to put the tools in place to be able to do that — matching families and houses.”
Shaler Smith’s goal is to raise the overall awareness of Habitat for Humanity’s presence in the region.
“I want to make us so much better known,” Shaler Smith said. “Habitat has great brand recognition but I don’t think a lot of people know about us locally. I think the sky is the limit at this point.”
Shaler Smith, a Glens Falls High School graduate, has been working in the nonprofit sector for 15 years and previously worked with the Girl Scouts organization.
The organization is looking at potentially building a home in Saratoga County for a local family in the spring, Shaler Smith said.
“Habitat really spoke to me, and being able to find people a home when they’re living in substandard housing,” Shaler Smith said.
The organization previously rented some space, but it wasn’t functional as a full office space for a full-time employee.
The organization will host an open house at its new office on March 22.
Families can apply for a Habitat for Humanity home by visiting www.glensfallshabitat.org or by calling 793-7484.