With her little finger, 2-year-old Averi Mitchell pointed to the blue stripe on her dress. Not the pink one, or the red one, or the yellow one. Blue is her favorite color, explained her mother, Shaniqua Oliver, and when painting Averi’s brand-new bedroom in a few months, it’ll be the tot’s color of choice.
By year’s end, mother and daughter will have a new home of their own, thanks, in part, to Richmond’s flourishing beer scene.
Richmond Metropolitan Habitat for Humanity has partnered with more than a dozen breweries — and one cidery — for an interesting fundraiser: The House that Beer Built aims to raise money for Oliver’s house by taking in proceeds from a number of beverage events happening now through the fall.
The participating breweries include: Bingo Beer Co.; Canon & Draw Brewing; Champion Brewing Co.; Garden Grove Brewing and Urban Winery; Hardywood Park Craft Brewery; Rock Bottom Brewery; Starr Hill Brewing; Steam Bell Beer Works; Strangeways Brewing; Stone Brewing; Tabol Brewing; Three Notch’d Brewing; and Väsen Brewing Co. Blue Bee Cidery is also on board.
The three-bedroom, ranch-style house in Richmond’s Randolph community will be Oliver’s first home. She found Habitat two years ago, she said, when she signed up for a seminar on the organization’s affordable housing programs. An administrator for an in-home health care agency, she applied for and was accepted to receive a Habitat house, which comes with a zero-interest loan.
Prior to closing on her new home, Oliver has to complete a series of financial literacy classes that cover everything from maintaining checking and savings accounts to mortgage loans and credit. She also has to put in 350 sweat-equity hours helping to build other Habitat homes. Her house is scheduled to be complete in early November.
Whitney Guthrie, Habitat director of community engagement, was part of a large contingent of brewery volunteers at the house site on Friday. The old home is being gutted and rebuilt for Oliver and Averi, and Friday was demo day. Guthrie said other Habitat agencies nationwide that are located in areas with a growing craft beer scene started the fundraiser, and “we have over 30 [breweries] here, so let’s see if we can do it.”
Guthrie said the beer fundraiser goal is $35,000. The house costs more than $100,000 to build, and other sponsors are contributing.
She noted that Habitat’s mission is similar to that of local breweries: Both tend to seek out underserved areas, build up or rehab the existing infrastructure, and then become part of the community.
“We have a lot more in common than we realize,” she said.
A $10 booklet is available for purchase at www.richmondhabitat.org/house-that-beer-built. It includes event dates as well as coupons and discounts at participating breweries.
Pausing for a quick break during the demo, Tabol Brewing’s Brandon Dise said craft beer admittedly is a luxury commodity rather than a necessity. But he agreed that local breweries share the desire to be connected to their communities, “so any way to give back to the community in a meaningful way is a no-brainer.”
Oliver said that when her daughter was born, buying a house became her top priority. Before she found the Habitat program, she started researching the homebuying process, but didn’t find any loan programs that fit her situation.
“I don’t make a lot of money, but I think I make enough to where I feel I can purchase a home,” said Oliver, adding that the required classes have helped her better learn how to manage her money for long-term success. She’s also learned, through sweat equity, how to paint as well as install floors and wallboard — even outdoor siding.
“I’ve learned a lot, and I’m still learning,” she said. She’s looking forward to decorating the house for the holidays and the seasons and giving Averi a sweet girly bedroom all her own.
“I’m looking forward to calling the place home.”