ABINGDON, Va. — The Washington County Habitat for Humanity will do more to help local families in need in 2019, according to the organization’s new executive director.

Krystal Kayton, who replaced executive director Pete Stigers in January, said her priority is to serve more families and individuals by helping them get out of undesirable living conditions.

“There are a lot of people who need our help and either don’t know how to receive the help or how to find us. That’s something I’m hoping to change,” Kayton said.

“Right now, our local Habitat does approximately 20 critical home repairs each year in the county. I want to increase the number of families we can help.”

One way the director hopes to expand the numbers is by joining forces with other local nonprofit agencies.

In a partnership with Spark Mill Consultants, Kayton is hosting a meeting from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today (Feb. 6) at Berry Home Center, conference room 1090, at Ole Berry Drive in Abingdon. Lunch will be provided.

During the Community Partner Collaborative, representatives from nonprofit agencies will participate in conversations about how local agencies and organizations can partner and collaborate to increase the level of volunteer engagement and participation in the region.

Participants will share best practices, learn from one another and start discussing new collaborations.

“We are inviting local agency representatives to take the course with us to help Washington County work better together as we aim to help our community and our residents,” said Kayton.

According to the director, a Tier 1 Capacity Building Grant through the Virginia Housing Development Authority is funding the Community Partner Collaborative meeting.

In addition, the funding has been used to purchase new volunteer management software and to redesign the local chapter’s webpage.

“Revamping our website is allowing people to request an application online. I’m seeing a great influx in critical home repair needs.”

Kayton also has recruited 14 different college groups to travel to Washington County this spring to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity projects. Student groups will come from as far away as Boston, Minnesota, Florida and Pennsylvania.

Students representing the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps will also volunteer this year.

Kayton, who humorously described herself as a “busy single mom who never stops moving,” became a volunteer with the Washington County chapter seven years ago.

“I just fell in love with their mission. Seeing a family receive keys to their house or their roof repaired is an amazing feeling. I love seeing how happy the families are,” Kayton said.

“When we told a young mother her application was approved for one of the houses we are finishing, she cried. She works two jobs and has three kids. It’s hard.”

After moving to Washington County in 2005, Kayton graduated from Virginia Highlands Community College with a degree in child psychology.

She has taught and volunteered with more than 35 nonprofit agencies in the area since 2005. Kayton became a board member with the Washington County Habitat for Humanity in 2017 before becoming a development director of the local chapter in 2018.

In addition to restoring a house in Glade Spring, the chapter is working to finish a house built by students at the Washington County Career and Technology Center and relocated to Baltimore Street in Abingdon — and six critical home repair projects that range from repairing a roof to reconstructing a bathroom.

Kayton said volunteers are always needed for Habitat for Humanity projects.

To learn more about volunteer jobs with the chapter or to attend the Community Partner Collaborative, send an email to kkayton@helphabitat.org or call 276-791-0622. Space is limited for the collaborative meeting.

Carolyn R. Wilson is a freelance writer in Glade Spring, Virginia. Contact her at news@washconews.com.

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