By Catharin Shepard • Staff writer • Part of a $3.5 million donation to Habitat for Humanity from a famous philanthropist will be put to good use in Hoke County as part of efforts to make safe, affordable housing available to local families.
Habitat for Humanity of the North Carolina Sandhills announced last week that writer and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott has donated $3.5 million to the group to help support its mission.
Executive Director Amie N. Fraley said the “epic gift,” an unrestricted donation, was made “in recognition of the work out entire community has done to address the affordable housing needs of our community.”
“Ms. Scott has said she and her advisers select nonprofits that have a track record of successfully carrying out their missions and has explained her decision to give unrestricted, general operating gifts to charity leaders, with ‘boots on the ground,’ maximum flexibility,” Fraley said in an announcement about the donation. “We are eager to put this gift to work, explicitly seeking available land to purchase with a portion of these proceeds to ensure we can continue building and preserving affordable housing for the foreseeable future.”
Scott is a philanthropist, author and the ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. According to Forbes, when the couple divorced in May 2019 and Scott received 25 percent of Bezos’ Amazon stake, she announced a pledge promising to give away at least half of her wealth over the course of her lifetime. As of June 2021, Scott had given away over $8 billion to some 786 nonprofit groups.
Now, part of that wealth will go to help Habitat for Humanity of the N.C. Sandhills be able to assist more families.
Helping deserving families obtain safe, affordable housing is becoming more difficult due to increasing costs of land and building materials, the organization said in the announcement. Anyone who may want to see their land used to help create local opportunities can reach out to Fraley or Farrah Newman at Habitat for Humanity of the N.C. Sandhills for more details on how they can help make a difference through the nonprofit.
“Our mission is more critical than ever. We value the many employees in our community who make this a great place to live and work – and we believe that the foundation for supporting these individuals lies in a safe and affordable place to call home,” Fraley said in a statement about the donation. “We believe the spirit of this gift is not to sit back and relax but rather to kick into high gear and increase the work our entire team is doing to care for our neighbors. Please join us in this journey as we explore new opportunities to build and advance equity for underserved communities. Whether you have been a financial supporter, volunteer, dedicated staff member, or ReStore shopper, this investment is for you – thank you for building with us!”
Hoke County Habitat for Humanity merged with Habitat for Humanity of the Sandhills a few years ago, becoming part of the larger multi-county agency. The organization has already dedicated its first Habitat home in Hoke and is progressing on more home building projects.
Habitat for Humanity does not offer “free” homes, but works with applicants, volunteers, church groups and donations of time, labor and materials to build affordable homes. Future homeowners put in their own “sweat equity” to help build homes, and their payments go toward funding future home builds.
For more information on Habitat for Humanity of the Sandhills, or to find out more about volunteering opportunities for individuals, church groups or other organizations, visit www.sandhillshabitat.org or call (910) 295-1934. The headquarters for the regional office is located at 2268 N.C. Highway 4 in Aberdeen.
Habitat for Humanity of the N.C. Sandhills additionally plans to attend the Kiwanis Club meeting April 7.