Building homes, communities and hope since 1985

Ilyasah N. Shabazz | September 13, 2017

Habitat Wake's beginnings began at the Corner Restaurant in the town of Wake Forest. In early 1985, Jack VandenHengel; Chris Fuller, son of Habitat for Humanity International founder Millard Fuller; and three others met to discuss the formation of an affiliate in Wake Forest. Around the same time, Dennis Gabriel, John Wilson and Fred Johnson, were meeting to discuss organizing an affiliate in Raleigh.

The two groups came together and formed the Heart of Carolina Habitat for Humanity. Jack VandenHengel was selected as acting executive director, and Rick Beech served as his assistant. A year later, Beech was named executive director. John Wilson was elected as chairperson of the board. Shortly after the initial board meeting, Habitat Wake received offers of three parcels of land at no cost.

In early June 1986, the first construction project commenced on East Hargett Street. Volunteer Fred Johnson successfully recruited the building trades to donate skilled labor and associated equipment and materials. Volunteers completed construction in December. The Lennon Family purchased this home, becoming the first Habitat Wake homeowner.

Edenton Street United Methodist Church, with Sid Gulledge Sr. leading the effort, became Habitat Wake's first sponsor in 1987. With the support of Edenton Street, Habitat Wake broke ground on Jubilee Court in Wake Forest, which led to the development of the first Habitat Wake "neighborhood."

In 1990, a charter was approved to change the organization's name to Habitat for Humanity of Wake County. For more than 30 years, Habitat Wake has partnered with thousands of individuals, corporations, and churches to build homes, communities, and hope with hardworking families.

What is your favorite Habitat memory? Share with us below!