By: Rich Kalchbrenner


I began attending meetings in the spring of 1997, held at the then not renovated Community Center in Fork Union. Preston Smith was President, an inspiring leader who had dedicated himself to doing all he could to keep our Fluvanna Habitat from failing.  Only two houses had been built since becoming a Habitat International Affiliate in 1993. The situation was bleak, but Preston somehow kept positive.  I will always remember the low point at our June meeting when our checking account balance was reported to be $624.46. This is not a typo! 


The situation began to improve over the next few months. Preston received approval from the Lake Monticello Golf Committee to allow us to hold a tournament. This new annual event not only evolved into an important fundraiser, but new people and businesses became involved in Habitat’s mission. With visits to many congregations where we appealed for prayers, volunteers, and financial support, we were able to bolster our committees with new, energetic members. Five congregations became Covenant Churches. Their support and assistance in many fundraising events, such as spaghetti dinners, silent auctions, and giant yard sales, were fundamental in our remaining a recognized, functioning Habitat Affiliate. 

Notable Momentum Building Events 


In late 1997, after obtaining a bulk mailing permit, getting an updated mailing list from the county, composing the solicitation letter, printing the addressed envelopes, and coordinating a date with the Palmyra Post Office, Habitat successfully held its first County Wide Mailing Envelope Stuffing Party” at Palmyra UMC. The “party” became an enjoyable social happening for our volunteers as well as an important annual fund raising event. Between 6,000 and 7,000 letters were mailed the first year, and grew to over 10,000 letters by 2006.  


In 1998, Miriam Liggett of Kinder Care contacted Oprah Winfrey’s Angels about Fluvanna Habitat in hopes of receiving a gift to be used for building a home. We received $25,000 for House #3 for the Shelby Hill family! The added publicity of Oprah’s Angels gift resulted in an increase in donations and gifts from other businesses and individuals in the vicinity. The home dedication service was held on June 6, 1999. 


In 1999, Angell Husted set a Guinness World Record for tap dancing. Her hope was to raise $10,000 for Habitat, which was reached.  Angell broke her own record and raised over $10,000 for Habitat in 2003.  Again, the publicity surrounding the events increased donations from many other contributors. 


By the end of the year 2000, we were well on our way to building three houses in five years, and our checking account balance on June 30, 2001 was $31,000.  The USDA Rural Development 502 Program’s first loan to us came in 2010.  Prior to that, we had to raise enough money to purchase a lot, and then raise enough money to begin building the next home. Also, we had to manage the mortgages of the existing homeowners. Their monthly payments were an important part of our yearly income.  With God’s blessings and countless hours of volunteer work, Fluvanna County HFH has grown to be an organization vital to the welfare of the community.