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Habitat for Humanity chapter kicks off virtual 5k fundraiser Oct. 15


Nonprofit had to cancel annual dinner because of pandemic

Mike Easterling   | Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — Unable to proceed with its annual fundraising dinner because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Tres Rios Habitat for Humanity is mounting an alternative series of fundraising events that will be highlighted by a virtual walk/run that kicks off this weekend.

The Step Up for Habitat Homes — 5k Walk/Run begins Oct. 15 and continues through Nov. 1. Participants are being asked to commit to walking or running a 5k during that period in exchange for donations to the organization, which builds affordable housing for low-income families in San Juan County.

Anyone interested in participating can register on the GoFundMe.com page the nonprofit organization has established. Donors will be asked to give a set amount rather than an amount based on how far the participant walks or runs.

"We've never done this before," said Tres Rios Habitat for Humanity spokesperson Hope Tyler, explaining that she and other chapter officials have no idea what to expect in terms of response.

Tyler said the Habitat chapter has relied heavily in the past on the money it receives from its annual prime rib dinner held every September. But with all events of that nature on hold this year because of the pandemic, Habitat and other organizations have had to develop alternate plans.

Tyler said the local Habitat chapter will counter by holding a series of smaller fundraising events, led by the 5k. The group again will be one of the beneficiaries of the annual Giving Tuesday campaign, an international day designated for charitable giving that traditionally is held on the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving. Giving Tuesday will take place on Dec. 1 this year.

Tres Rios Habitat for Humanity also will launch a Valentine's Day-related donation campaign. Donors will be encouraged to post photos of themselves with their significant other on social media, and viewers will be asked to donate a small amount, perhaps $1, for each like the photo draws.

The idea is to make up for the loss of the prime rib dinner, which usually allowed the organization to clear approximately $5,000, she said.

"We're hoping that when they are all added together, they will match our big fundraiser," Tyler said.

Anyone who wants to take part in the walk/run is encouraged to do so, even if they don't want to solicit donations from friends or family members, Tyler said. But they are asked to promote their participation on social media so that Habitat benefits from increased awareness, she said.

Money raised from the campaigns will help the chapter continue its work, which has gone on during the pandemic. Habitat recently broke ground on its 12th home, which will be located on a plot in Bloomfield that was donated by Dorothy Nobis, who recently joined the organization's board of directors.

The recipient of the new home will be Jade Torres, a single mother of three children. Tyler said Torres has been living for a year in a two-bedroom dwelling with her sister, who has children of her own, so the family's current living conditions are very crowded.

"We're very excited to be partnering with her," Tyler said, explaining that an overcrowded situation is among the criteria Tres Rios Habitat for Humanity takes into account when it considers the applications of people who have applied to be part of the program.

Actual construction on the home won't begin for 30 to 45 days, Tyler said, depending on how soon the permitting process is finished. But when it does, a variety of green techniques will be employed in the process — a new step for the local Habitat chapter. Tyler said those green building techniques will become a standard feature of the organization's projects from now on.

"We're pretty excited about that," she said.

Information about all the local chapter's programs and campaigns can be found at tresrioshabitat.com.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or measterling@daily-times.com. Support local journalism with a digital subscription.