Garland County Habitat for Humanity (GCHFH) received its charter from Habitat for Humanity International on April 1, 1996, and was recognized by the State of Arkansas as a non-profit corporation September 18, 1995. This was the culmination of many hours of work by a group of dedicated volunteers who believed that God calls us to help our fellow man. The two founders were Rev. Frank Chlastak, pastor of National Park Christian Church, Dr. Charlotte Appel, a retired educator, Bob Spindler, who acted at a construction supervisor, Dick and Carol Mattson, who were instrumental in starting the ReStore operation, and John Selig, who became the second chairman of the board for several years. Both had previous experience with the Little Rock Habitat for Humanity Affiliate.
The groundbreaking ceremony for the first Habitat for Humanity house in Garland County was held on April 26, 1996. Construction began shortly thereafter and was completed in early December. The dedication ceremony was held on December 12, 1996.
A major step was taken by the Board of Directors in January 2001 to hire an Executive Director. In August 2003, the position of an Administrative Assistant was created; in January 2005, a part-time Resource Development Manager was hired; in 2006 a part-time Volunteer Coordinator was hired; in March 2008, an Administrative Assistant was hired and a new Financial Manager position was established. In 2011, a part-time publicity assistant was hired.
The phenomenal success of GCHFH led to its being named the “Volunteer Organization of the Year 2000” by the Greater Hot Springs Arkansas Camber of Commerce. In October 2001, Millard & Linda Fuller, Founders of Habitat for Humanity International, came to Hot Springs to participate in the Dedication/Celebration of the completion of a 15-house Horizon Habitat Village and Hollywood Park, a children’s park adjacent to the Village, as well as the opening of the 1st ReStore on Central Avenue.
A ReStore Director was hired in 2003. GCHFH relocated their original ReStore to 350 Malvern Avenue in January of 2012. GCHFH opened a 2nd location located at 3825 North Highway 7 in Hot Springs Village in November of 2012. A ReStore donation drop off location was opened at 2314 Airport Road in August 2014.
GCHFH hosted the Middle States Regional Conference in October 2004, attended by over 500. The completion of Patriot Village, a 22-home development was celebrated in conjunction with the Middle States Regional Conference. The dedication ceremony was the culmination of the conference. Another significant honor for Garland County HFH was being named the 2004 Affiliate of the Year of the Middle States Region, which is comprised of 8 states. GCHFH was named number one of 70 affiliates in the 50,000 to 250,000 population category.
The goal of GCHFH was to complete 20 houses within the first five years of existence. That goal was achieved with the dedication of the 20th house on December 15, 2001. During 2002-2014 eighty five more houses have been dedicated, bringing the total to 115 as of December 2014. These homes are located in Horizon Village, Patriot Village, Randy Cox Village, Wheatley Village, Shaw Village, Belleview Street, Euclid Street, Sanford Street, Rector Street, Whittington Avenue, 4th Street, Oma Street and Castleton Street.
September 20, 2012 the 100th house was dedicated in honor of John Selig for his continued support and volunteering with Habitat. We had a large celebration in honor of this joyous occasion.
In June 2014 Walt MacFatridge, chair of GCHFH construction committee, completed his 100th home.
In 2015, Garland County Habitat for Humanity celebrated its 20th Anniversary, and in January, 2016 dedicated its 120th home. 121 homes have now been dedicated, with plans an a timeline for 8 new homes in 2016-17.