Alabama Rural Ministry is still accepting donations for its No More Shacks initiative as it continues its work helping residents recover from the 2019 tornadoes and offering home repair.
The theme of this year's No More Shacks event, which has been held for the past 13 years, plays off of the state's statewide health order — Safer at Home Starts with a Safe Home.
"Having discussions around what has been the impact of Covid-19 when you have to shelter in place and you're part of the vulnerable population, how then does something like a home that is leaking that is not safe, that's not warm, that's not dry, how is that magnified now through Covid — that's been the highlight," said Lisa Pierce, executive director and founder of Alabama Rural Ministry.
Pierce has spent the past week sleeping in the makeshift shack set up in front of the Wesley Foundation on Gay Street. She broke down the shack on Tuesday, but wants area residents to know that any donations received through Nov. 1 will be put toward No More Shacks.
Funds raised will go toward continued tornado recovery efforts, as well as ARM's primary mission of home repair.
"It's still focused on raising funds for home repair, but also just this mindset and this understanding that it's even more complex when you have these other chronic situations that are going on," said Pierce.
The original goal for No More Shacks was to raise $145,000. Currently, the event has raised about $75,000.
"Usually, we're pretty close by the time we get to the end, and we're just over half way, so you can definitely tell the financial impacts of Covid-19 on folks is pretty obvious. So that's a little bit of a challenge for us, too," she said. "Really, if we can get close to $100,000 we'll be OK. That's now the real target is to get there."
Area civic leaders and pastors have dropped by the shack over the past week, including Auburn Mayor Ron Anders and Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller.
"They don't sleep here, but they come visit," Pierce said. "Great, great discussion with those mayors on housing and Covid, just things that they're wrestling with and how they're trying to lead."
At the City Council meeting on Tuesday night, Anders said ARM and Pierce are doing great work in the community.
"If you're looking for a place to plug in or make a contribution, this is a ministry that helps repair homes, primarily in the Black Belt," he said. "But they have also been participating in tornado recovery here locally."
While the No More Shacks event will wrap up at the end of the month, ARM continually accepts donations throughout the year.
ARM is really a servant-leadership development ministry, said Pierce.
"Our goal is to build servant leaders who rebuild their communities, strengthen families. Our thought is that's why we're volunteer-based. It's really to build those character traits — servant leadership, development — and the by-product is going to be around sustainable homes and strong families," she said. "The sustainable homes is owner-occupied home repair, making homes warm, safe, dry and beautiful. There is an affordable-housing component where we're renovating homes that can be leased, and those are toward our veterans population.
"One of those populations that we're trying to serve is our veteran population, who sometimes struggle with housing and finding good housing and things like that."
ARM offers multiple ways to donate — online at www.arm-al.org/give, by Venmo (@arm-al) or by mail at P.O. Box 2890, Auburn, AL 36831.